Yesterday I noticed that in celebration of March 14, Richard had added our Pi graphic to the Math Forum homepage and also a link to our T2T® FAQ: Pi Day

Pi graphic on homepage

As the author/editor of that FAQ I thought I should take a few moments to check the links since as happens with many webpages, some go offline. I found a few to remove from the Resources on the Web section and I added a link to Scott Steketee’s recent π Day 2014 blog post — great Sketchpad resources! And as I was checking the various resources I started to think about ways that I might use them if I were transported back in time to my middle school classroom (a position I left fourteen years ago).

IDEA 1: I Notice, I Wonder™
Before first period begins I’d set up my computer and video projector or SMARTBoard to Scott’s page. I’d scroll down to have Jaws of π displayed:

When the first student arrives (throughout the day) I’d ask him/her to be the “driver” and click on “Unroll and Fill Arcs” and “Separate Arcs and Roll Up” as needed. That would leave me time to ask students “What do you notice?” and call on them as they had a response. After a few minutes I would ask them “What do you wonder?” In all I might give 5 minutes for this activity. No conclusions — just food for thought!

IDEA 2: I Notice, I Wonder™ in Pairs in a Computer Lab or Using iPads
My last classroom was a computer lab – it is natural for me to imagine having a few students who drop in before school help me set up the computers to this webpage, add it as a “favorite” or “bookmark” so that when my first math class enters I would have the students work in pairs and have notice/wonder conversations with each other. This same idea would work well with iPads (I just checked to make sure that Scott’s resources work on an iPad — they do!)

Both Idea 1 and Idea 2 might be something I would do as part of a Pi Day celebration. As I was looking over the T2T® FAQ: Pi Day it occurred to me that the resources we link to could be thought of as appropriate to be included:

  • during a one day celebration
  • as an aftermath of that celebration (or possibly next year as something leading up to the celebratory day)

Besides the idea of having students engage with Scott’s Sketchpad resources, here are some of my “oldie but goodie” favorites linked from the FAQ:

I am assuming that it takes time and exposure for many middle school students to develop an appreciation of the significance of π. Like many math topics we can present an idea to students but until they have a chance to make the ideas something meaningful to them, they haven’t really learned. Maybe they’ve been “taught” but they’ve not chosen to “learn.” Here are some activities that I’ve been thinking about:

Extend the initial I Notice, I Wonder™ experience of Scott’s Sketchpad activities. Have students work in pairs to explain what is really going on in the activity. How do the four compare? How are they alike? How are they different?

Use one of the Problems of the Week linked from the FAQ*. For example, How Fast Is a Minute? One of the teacher resources is the Teacher Packet and I just took a screenshot of Rishi’s solution. It’s not something students who haven’t had practice problem solving and communicating will write automatically … but … it’s an example of what we want them to work toward!

*If you are a PoW member you have access to the Problems of the Week listed on the FAQ. If you are not a member, know that you can sign up for a (free) Trial Account. For 21 days you’ll have free access to the Current Problems and you can view up to 5 problems from the Library!

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Are you planning any Pi Day AfterMath ideas? Do you have any blog posts or resources pages to suggest that I add to the FAQ: Pi Day page?