Math and Writing Enrichment Ideas!

Great ideas to differentiate and integrate the real world into your curriculum and create a rigorous learning environment!  

1.  "Multi-Step Math Problems Backwards!"  One way that I challenge my students and ultimately add a new level of depth to multi-step math problem solving is by having them rewrite a multi-step word problem backwards or in reverse.  Completing this task requires the student to apply higher order thinking skills as they rethink the order of events or operations in the problem.

For example:

1.Jarrod wants to ride the Ferris wheel, the roller coaster, and the log ride. The Ferris wheel costs 5 tickets, the roller coaster costs 7 tickets and the log ride costs 1 ticket. Jarrod has 5 tickets. How many more tickets should Jarrod buy?
Solve this problem:  Jarrod needs to buy 8 more tickets.

Rewrite this multi-step word problem backwards:
Jarrod  would like to have 13 tickets because he found out that he will need 1 ticket to ride the log ride, 7 tickets to ride the roller coaster and 5 tickets to ride the Ferris wheel.

2. Daniel is in the orchestra. Johnelle is in the band. There are 39 students in the orchestra and twice that number in the band. There are 23 boys and 13 girls in the choir. If each student only participates in one group, how many students total are there in the orchestra, the band, and the choir?
Solve this problem:  153 students could be in either the orchestra, band or choir

Rewrite this multi-step word problem backwards:  
153 students wanted  to participate in an activity at school. 36 students decided to participate in choir and 23 or them were boys and 23 were girls.  78 students, including Johnelle, decided to participate in band while half of that amount of students participated in the orchestra like Daniel.

By having the students rewrite the problem and inadvertently record the operations used in the problem backwards; it is much easier to assess their true level of understanding of multi-step word problems.

I have included this free DOWNLOAD to try this activity with your own students.

2. "Character Trait Slam!"    When my students are studying character traits they love an activity that we unanimously decided to name the "Character Trait Slam!"  
In this activity the students are given a character trait and they create humorous slams to exaggerate the character trait.  As the students begin to brainstorm their "slams" they will begin thinking on an entirely new level as they attempt to make connections with the most extreme level of the character trait.   When they are finished with their exaggerations; we share them in one big "Character Trait Slam!" 

Actual examples provided my students!
You're so empathetic that you feel bad for the toast when it gets burned!
You're so empathetic that you feel sorry for your homework when it doesn't get done!

You're so intelligent that Albert Einstein called your house for homework help last night!
You're so intelligent that Jane Goodall's apes want to observe and do a study on you!

I have included the free DOWNLOAD to this activity below. i

3.    "Window Watchers!"  I was becoming a bit "underwhelmed" with the quality of my student's writing over the past week.  Spring break is around the corner and their eyes are definitely on the prize.  It appeared that they were not using the same intensity in their work and I needed a writing piece to motivate them and bring back that drive and creativity so I used a prompt that was close to my heart.
       I love my home state of Iowa, I grew up in a small rural farm community and when I visit twice a year in the summer or winter my favorite thing to do is look out the huge bay window in my parent's living room.  In the winter I can look out and see the white sheet of snow with tree branches peeking out and a stillness of life that is almost deafening.  In the summer I  stare at the  multiplying rows of corn, soft green grass, and the herd of cattle fenced in the pasture wandering about without a care in the world.
      I wanted my students to think about what they would like to see if "right now" they could see anything outside that window that they desire.  They were instructed to write their response in a way that what they were seeing would appear more special than anything any of us could ever imagine.  I've included a link to this DOWNLOAD to use with your students.

4. "Volume and Capacity Share!"  Teaching students the concept of volume and capacity and its relationship to measurement can be challenging.  We teach them that the difference between capacity and volume is that, volume is the amount of space taken up by an object, while capacity is the measure of an object's ability to hold a substance but many times students don't know where to draw the line between the two.

As an introduction, invite your students to each bring an empty food box to school; it could be a cereal, jello, cake mix, or even a casserole box.

The next day have them set their empty boxes on their desk.  Provide a large box of math counters (all the same size) and  this Data Sheet for them to fill out on their box or container. Before you begin, provide a mini-lesson on measuring volume by using examples and measuring boxes of your own.  Then show them how to measure capacity by filling a box with counters.

At this point, they are ready to begin recording, measuring and counting: (I have provided the DOWNLOAD to the data sheet below .)  I have each student share their data one by one and as each student is sharing I use engaging questions to reiterate the meanings of volume, capacity and weight.  After the last student has shared their data,  the students usually seem to have a genuine grasp on these measurement concepts.  Last, I have them attach their data sheet to their box and we keep them on display as we continue to investigate these concepts. 

Have a wonderful week, keep your eyes on your prize; each student that walks through your door needs you to be their hero!