Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lesson Plan: Pizzaria

Pizzeria 3940: Math lesson plan

By Veronique Lavoie & Krista St. Croix

Grade level: 1

Strand: Number sense

Lesson Objectives

Students will:

  • further develop counting skills

  • discover different ways to make up the number 6

  • understand graphing as another means to represent a number

  • be able to connect number concepts to the real world



  • construction paper cut into shape of pizza crust (one for each group of students)


  • sections of green pipe cleaner to represent green pepper

  • yellow foam cut outs to represent pineapple

  • orange pom-poms to represent pepperoni

  • purple ribbon to represent onion

  • wooden pieces to represent mushrooms

  • pink sisal squares to represent ham

* Note: other materials can be used to represent these or other toppings, but they should be different in colour and texture. There should be enough for each group to use 6 toppings.



Ask the class if they like to eat pizza. Have a discussion with them about their favorite pizza toppings. For example say “My favorite pizza topping is pepperoni. What do you like on your pizza?” Record students' answers on board or chart paper. Once this is completed, toppings can be modified to suit students' interest.


Tell the class that today we will pretending to open a class pizzeria, and they will be the chefs. Hold up a pizza crust, and tell them that this is their base. Then hold up the different toppings and explain what each item represents. Tell the students that in groups of 4 or 5, they will create as many different pizzas as they can, using only 6 toppings on each pizza. They will record their pizza creations on the handout provided. They can create as many different pizzas as they wish, but they must stay within the 6 topping limit.


After the students have been working for about 15 minutes, have a class discussion about the different approaches they have taken and why. Ask each group to share a combination with the class. Discover with them the different ways in which they created a pizza using only 6 toppings. Collect the handouts and materials from each group.


Assessment for this activity will be done through teacher observation and anecdotal notes. The teacher will monitor student performance, making note of which students had some difficulty and those that could benefit from additional challenging problem solving activities. Some students may be early finishers and could use larger number combination (8 or 10, for example). A checklist could be used as a form of assessment as well. A sample checklist is below.




Students are engaged and offer opinions

Students followed direction and stayed within given limitations

Students demonstrate proper use and understanding of manipulative's

Students demonstrate an understanding and correct use of recording sheet

***This lesson plan has been adapted from a lesson described in the text “Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally” by John A. VandeWall. The lesson plan “Earl's sandwich can be found on page 143 in the text.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

And The Teaching Episodes Begin !

Today our math class like many to follow was based on our teaching episode presentations. There were three groups that gave their presentations today. My partner and I were one of these three groups but I will talk about that in my next blog.

I consider the opportunity to participate as a student in these presentations as very insightful and much like the last few classes to be very hands on. This experience greatly enhanced my interest in teaching in a more problem solving way and it expanded my understanding of how beneficial creating problem solving activities like the ones that were demonstrated can be so useful and helpful within a classroom setting. The opportunity to be placed in the position that children will be in and to see things from a different perspective can change ones outlook in amazing ways due to the fact that you are experiencing and getting an idea of what makes this method so successful.

The variety of games/ activities presented were very creative and really got me thinking about how easy it is to create and incorporate this type of teaching in the classroom and how it can be used in every area of math. It is also evident of the cross-curricular links that just seem to pop up everywhere and how you can take areas of other subjects into math or bring math into those different areas. For example the presentation dealing with tallying and graphing by using the different seasons you can easily take that idea and incorporate it to build on a science unit that relates to the different seasons.

Also I found that when you use a more exploring and self-discovery method of teaching that it instantly becomes of more interest for the students. When I was in primary and elementary school math was always considered to be the boring subject or the one that was focused completely on desk work but I can see this way of teaching as changing that negative attitude towards math and compelling children to want to participate and even get excited about doing math problems. The more meaning that can be placed on math and reasoning of how we use it so much will greater peoples understanding of why its so important to use this method of math in classrooms.

I really enjoyed all the presentations and am excited to see the ones that are to come. I find them to be inspiring and can easily see me using ones much like them when I have my very own classroom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fun With Fractions and Creative Problem Solving

Today we began class by playing and experimenting with our colourful shapes that represented a specific fraction. For example the full white sheet represented a whole unit, while the pink paper that was cut down the middle represented two halves. The opportunity to observe and distinguish the colors into the appropriate fraction that they represented made it much easier to understand what each fraction was and why. For example when looking at how two halves equal a whole the student is able to place the two halves over the whole and see that they are the same.

Having a visual element greatly enhances the ability for students to make connections between definitions and words. From my own experience I know that having this type of engagement when I was a student would have made learning fractions a much easier challenge. I found that by having a visual aid made comprehension of the material and ideas much more meaningful as the activity was not only words but had a concrete base behind it. When I was in school there were only numbers recited over and over and specific formulas and rules to follow as a means of directions. It was because of my lack of awareness that I was unable to fully understand the full concept of fractions. I found it difficult to see how fractions related to each other and therefore struggled through the whole unit, however when using the creative shapes it almost instantly clicked and I could see some of the relationships between fractions. The problem solving activity based around using our fraction pieces aided greatly with the building of this newfound understanding. I found myself thinking more and I became deeply engaged.

Then we preceded the class with a number of creative problem solving activities that really got me thinking. I really enjoyed the straw game because it got me strategising about how to out smart my competitor. After a few games I began to see patterns and ways to win the game. Such as leaving only a certain number of straws so that my competitor would be forced to pick up that last straw.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is MATH?

When I think about the word Mathematics, I think about its basic concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I believe that these are my preliminary thoughts because these are the concepts that are so recognizable to me and are skills that I have used so often in both my school days and everyday life as well. I think that these are the building blocks to the bigger ideas which included mathematic techniques such as algebra, geometry, probability and other higher level concepts that I was taught going up through high school.

Since I have started university I have begun to build on my mathematic knowledge by becoming exposed to a number of different math courses such as, number theory and combinatorics. I think that as a result of this exposure that I have broaden this understanding of the bigger idea of mathematics and that it continues to do so because of this course. I now feel that mathematics is more about exploring, thinking about what makes sense and not so much about if the answer is right.

The article “What Kind of Thing Is a Number?” A Talk with Reuben Hersh, talks about how math is usually considered to be either internal or external. That it is first assumed that what is math is such a simple question to answer but the complication that is really involved is sometimes unnoticeable at first glance. I found that Hersh expresses his thoughts of this in an enlightening manner. He conveys that math is an enormous part of our culture that it is neither physical nor mental but social in nature. That math is part of so many things within our culture such as the law or the money we use. I think that this is easy to see when you stop and think about how math is used in our everyday lives, that it is not just a skill that we are presented to in schools and that is its only purpose is to drive students crazy but has a deeper meaning that we all sometimes take advantage of. When I think about it from thinking about the amount of time I have to get ready in the morning to figuring out what meal is cheaper at a restaurant the numbers and other materials used with the understanding of math is around us and in constant use. I think that children need to be explained and aided in the comprehension of the importance and constant use of matematics.

Article Review and Textbook Website

Today in class we got into groups of two and read the article: Mathematics for the moment, or the Millennium? Education week commentary 29 (xvIII) March 31, pp 30 & 34. After we were finished reading our teacher gave us the opportunity to discuss our thoughts and what we gained from the reading. She also explained that this is important to do because different people gain and can perceive a piece of text in a number a different ways. I personally thought that this was a very interesting article because it dealt with a research study done on two schools that investigated the different mathematic teaching styles. One school was taught math by using a project-based style. This style was a done by having students work in heterogeneous groups and had a very laid back atmosphere; however the other school used a textbook style that was very strict and had the students use mostly memorization and learn procedures and formulas. It enlightened me when I read the results that the project-based school did better in the tests, I was expecting it to be the other way around. This helps to reinforce my feelings of using this method of teaching in the classroom when teaching mathematics. I found that the writer was well spoken and that the text was very easy to read also she never once said directly that one method was better to another only providing the reader with the facts. Also I thought that it was impressive how not once did the writer diminish the work of any teacher from either of the schools.

We also got the opportunity to look at two blog postings by Elaina Johnson. I was very impressed with the amount of work that she has put into her blog as well I was captivated at the way in which she has incorporated the use of a blog into her classroom. I think that since we are in an age that is so technology based that this is a great way to introduce her class into the use of computers and a great way to relay information back to parents.

The last thing that we got to look at before the end of class was the textbook website. This was very first time seeing this site and I found it very helpful the way that we were explained how to use it and the different recourses that it could provide for us now and as future teachers. For example the black line masters that provides a number of different activities that could be used in my future classroom and a literature section that provides a list of a number of books that could be used to aid in the teaching of different math units. I think that it is wonderful that this site makes this information available. Also I really enjoy how when after reading a chapter in the text you can look up that chapter on the site and get an overall summary which will be especially useful when studying for the midterm.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Novel : The Number Devil

Today in class we were introduced to the novel the number devil. I think that this novel would be a great resource to use within any primary/elementary school classroom to aid with the understanding of mathematics. After Mary read us just a small portion to give us just a little glimpse of what this novel was about I became mesmerized. This is definitely a book that I would use within my classroom; also the fact that it is so versatile and you can use it in both primary/elementary increased my fascination to this novel. It also covers basic concepts, infinite numbers, prime numbers, numbers that expand and the challenges surrounding calculators just to name a few.

Today in class we also got to get hands on and had to put our thinking caps on which I found to be very exciting. We got into groups and each group was given an amount of sand, we were then expected to find out how many grains of sand were there. Me and Veronique who was my partner thought about a number of approaches before we actually started, we finally ended up by filling up 1 cm cubes we ended up with 14 cubes being filled then we emptied one of the cubes out and further broke down the amount into half’s until we were only dealing with a tiny amount of sand that we were able to count the grains. When we were given the chance to walk around and see the other approaches that some of the other groups used I was amazed to find that there were so many different attempts that had not even crossed my mind. I quickly realized that children need to be exposed to this type of activity to understand that there is not always one right answer or one way to reach a specific answer.

Observation day

On Tuesday’s class we were given the opportunity to talk about our observation day that we had on Monday. We began this by getting into smaller groups with people that we were not sat with or had not previously had a similar discussion with. When we were into these groups we chatted and shared our experiences that we had with both the teachers and students in specific consideration with mathematics. The methods used and the interactions and response that the students had. After we had all a chance to share amongst the group we returned to our previous setting arrangement and be a whole class discussion. Mary began by asking students that were in grade kindergarten classrooms, then grade four etc, and some students openly made comments about mathematics in there observation day. She had also accompanied the discussions by showing us visually the textbooks for math for each individual grade. I found this discussion to be very enlightening because it gave me the chance to hear about some of the methods that different grade levels and schools responded and addressed mathematics.

My observation day took place in a grade five classroom here in St. John's. I was so delighted to get to be a spectator to the introduction of capacity. The teacher began the unit by talking about previous knowledge that they had about millimetres, centimetres and meters. Then she talked about the related units that would be using which included millilitres, litres and kiloliters and she discussed the relation between the units. She decided to do an activity as a whole class to get the students motivated and interested in the new unit. She set up a table in front of the classroom and had it lined off with a number of different shaped containers such as a water bottle and juice container. The teacher had the students write down an educated guess and arrange the containers, which were numbered from the one that would hold the most water to the least. Then she had a number of student measure the amount and then the teacher reviewed and converse over the findings.