## March 21, 2012

### Pi Day

This week is English MCAS (state test) week in Massachusetts. That means for 3 hours Tuesday, 3 hours Wednesday and 2 hours Thursday all the sophomores have to sit for exams that determine their eligibility for graduation. Then, they get sent off to class. Since I have almost all sophomores we postponed pi day by a week and celebrated on the 3 hour test days. I bribe my students with pie, but they do real math and we spend the 45 minutes productively, so I'm fine with it. Plus, they deserve the reward!

I started celebrating pi day at my first school, where it was actually a collaborative effort with a veteran English teacher. He had developed the method with some colleagues, but I wrote the worksheet to emphasize student thinking rather than providing all the steps and creating a mindless plug and chug activity.

Pi Day

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Since we only had 45 minutes to both calculate pi and eat pie, I found we needed to do numbers 1 and 2 as a class. With more time I would give students the independence to figure it out themselves and work with them individually as needed. After question 1 I tell students to imagine that they are mathematicians in ancient times: they have noticed these equations seems to hold true for some constant, but they don't know that 3.14... is the correct value, how would they find this mystery number?

I think I have a lot more fun watching kids roll circular objects down the hall than they do crawling or crouching for 100 feet, but it gets them moving and maybe experiencing circumference helps them understand it? I also enjoy writing silly messages on the start, half way and finish lines (blue painters tape- easy to see and remove).  One issue that comes up in every class is units.  We have tiles that are 1 foot long so it was easiest for me to make the track 100 feet.  In class I allow students to use cm or inches at their whim, so long as they are consistent with themselves throughout the activity, so many students measured diameter in cm.  You can guess how well their value of pi came out!

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When students finished their work they traded in their worksheet for a slice of pie (donated by our local grocery store- Shaws). This turned out to do much more than make sure each kid only got one slice of pie; it meant there was very little copying (I had the completed sheets) and I could direct students with questions to find a student who already had pie (an easy identifier).

While they were calculating and eating I played my favorite pi music.

#### 1 comment:

1. This is lovely post. I like this post.