Monday, 19 December 2011

Original Lesson 2: Skyscraper Maths

This lesson is a bit complex, but it can be used multiple times in multiple ways, so bear with me. So, first of all, you briefly describe a spectacular building around the world. Examples are:
- The House Stacked in the Sky, architecturally amazing:
- Lots of cool skyscrapers with brief descriptions:
- Very expensive, grandiose hotels:

This is great for grabbing students' interest from the start, particularly any arts-loving students who don't love maths, and for subtly incorporating some world-knowledge (geography) into your numeracy block. Then ask students to set up chairs in two separate areas of the room. One lot of chairs is stacked up to signify stairs, and the other put into a square configuration to represent an elevator.  

                    O                                                                 O  O        O O
               O  O                                                                 O                 O
          O  O  O                                                                 O                 O
     O  O  O  O                                                                 O  O  O  O  O   
           Stairs                                                                      Elevator                                                                          

Tell the students that they are in the building you described. They have to meet their friend urgently who is on a different floor. It is quicker to go down or up the stairs if they only have to move 7 or less floors. It is quicker to go by elevator if they have to move 8 or more floors. Tell the students they are on floor x, and need to move to floor y. Students sit in the middle of the elevator and stairs, write their answer on a small answer card and, once everyone has finished writing, the teacher signals that they can move to their chosen mode of transport. (The use of answer cards ensures students don't just follow the leader and each student gets thinking time before others start to move around).

eg You are on the 4th floor. You need to get to the 13th floor. 13 - 4 = 9 floors, answer is elevator

This is a great way to incorporate mental arithmetic and practice with addition/subtraction while consolidating greater/less than/equal to signs. It puts maths into a real-life context, involves application skills rather than only equation solving and caters for kinaesthetic learners.

- Have one student write the equation and the greater/less than rationale on the board each time or explain it orally. eg 13 (floor need to be on) - 4 (floor on now) = 9 (floors need to move)   9 > 7 (so use elevator)
- Make the numbers involved bigger or focus it on any timestables students are struggling with.
- Change up the maths operation. eg You are on the 12th floor. Divide 12 by 3, the answer is the floor your friend is on. Stairs or elevator?
- Alter the rules, eg for a few equations the stairs are 7 or more floors, then change it to 19 or more floors because one elevator in the building has broken down and the rest are slower.
- Incorporate more modes of transport. eg 7≤ stairs        between 8 to 13 escalator  (8≤ escalator≤13)  
>13 elevator         >24 abseil

This is a lesson that I'm really excited about. What do you think? Do you think it would work with your class?

How could it be improved/altered?


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I really like this lesson idea, particularly the ways it can be adapted and teaches maths in a fun way for the kids.

Kids would definitely each other without answer cards so they are likely to be critical to its success. I can't think of any improvements at the moment.

Keep up the good work.


Anna Kapnoullas said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for being the first visitor to comment on my blog!

This is definitely my favourite lesson at the moment. Mini whiteboards or individual student interactive whiteboard answer consols could be used in the place of answer cards if you have any at your school.

Thanks again,