Making Curriculum Pop

Hey everybody! My name is Phil Stoecker. I am a student at Aurora University and pre-teaching at East Aurora High school. I have a project in which I need to create a unit to make geometry pop! As most math teachers know, math may be the hardest subject to get students excited about. I am looking to create a unit where high school students are to design and construct a high-school in which they would like to attend.

My current ideas include using geometry to construct the dimensions of the building, keep track of costs or building materials, furniture, supplies, etc., and finally they would present their projects to myself, school administrators, and the class to try and persuade us to build their school. By doing this, it will keep students' schools realistic. If anyone has any suggestions, alterations, or comments I would greatly appreciate it! I look forward to hearing any responses. Thanks!


Phil Stoecker

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I think this is a rich topic for exploration, and there is a ton of math in there. To me, the key with a problem like this is scaffolding it for all of the students in the class. When I think of this topic, I guess the simplest approach is to buying gutters for an already existing building (perimeter), then maybe laying flooring in a gym (with rectangles being the easiest and getting more complicated by changing the shape of the gym), then the most difficult approach would be in actually dealing with the volumes of construction. Depending on the kinds of shapes that the students are familiar with, you can have them grapple with ideas that are difficult for them, instead of overwhelming them or boring them.

When it comes to filling the rooms, try to keep it simple. With my students, they can get overwhelmed if given a lot of options right in the beginning, so you may want to look at creating a flow chart for the different kinds of spaces that you will have. For example, perhaps the "classroom" flow chart has two options: Core subject or Elective. If they choose core subject they get the choice of tables or desks. Those lines would end with a number (Buy 30 desks or Buy 6 tables). Maybe the elective room would only have the option of tables. This will still give the students the opportunity to make decisions about what goes in each room, but isn't as daunting as giving them a catalog and asking them to buy chairs for the school.

These are some of my initial thoughts, and I wish you luck!

Thank you so much for the response. You have some great ideas, and it really opened up my mind into alot of things. The first that came to my mind was that you were right in the fact that I would be giving them a way too broad of topic to cover. I was thinking of giving them different geometry concepts for different rooms. Maybe I would take your floor idea and use it to construct the gym. Then maybe take another geometry concept and use it to build some of the cafeteria, or math classroom, and so on.

I really think I'm getting a better idea of what I want to do with this and how it can better the students. I appreciate your thoughts Karl.

Phil, did some more hunting - you might consider contacting these folks for ideas, rubics, project sheets etc. ...

See this article:
Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning

See this video:
Also see this forum post on Math and Literacy



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