Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Math In Real Life: Back to School Desk Arranging!

It's the first Wednesday of September which means it's time for our monthly linky - Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!


A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


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As many of you can relate, I have spent the better part of the last weeks getting ready for a new crew of fourth graders.  From planning to box unpacking to board decorating to room arranging--I don't even WANT to know the real world math involved in figuring out how much prep time has been spent preparing!

This year I have 24 students. This is typically a FANTASTIC number for desk arranging.  I can do 2's.  3's.  4's.  6's...you get the drift. (Love that FACTOR talk, right?).  This year, however, I have a bit of a conundrum.  I have 24 students-but 11 are boys and 13 are girls.  I tend to like to keep at least 2 of each gender at a table, so I started playing with different permutations of how I could make this happen.

I tried 3's.  I tried 4's.  I even started sketching on the white board to see what I could be missing.

Desks in 3's?  Couldn't make it work.

Desks in 5's?  4's?  Couldn't make it work.

This was NOT a temper tantrum.  They are tippy when they are empty!  Just sayin'.

So...I finally decided on an arrangement that involved a group of 4 boys, a group of 3 girls, a group of 5 (2 girls, 3 boys), two groups of  4 (2 girls, 2 boys), and one group of 4 girls.  It worked.  It wasn't pretty--but it worked.

So the more I started thinking about it, I realize that this might be a fun "first math activity" for my students--something to show them that math is really a process, that there can be more than one answer, that putting heads together can lead to new ideas--and more!  I put together a little template of 24 desks and gave the students a packet with the background information, a class map, and then a list of "explorations" to try.  It was VERY challenging--but we persevered!
One pair asked if they could label the desks "B" and "G" to help...
Getting ready to experiment!
Here was the "scenario"...

Here were the investigations!  The students were told to pick one to try...and if they solved it, to try another.
Want to grab the freebie? CLICK HERE to get a copy for yourself.  You could always change the name and numbers if you want--but feel free to use as is!

Don't forget to check out all the other "Math is Real Life" posts below!  Have a great day--watch for a first day of school post coming soon!
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5 comments:

  1. What a fantastic idea! Love the idea of seeing how kids would put the desks and I bet you could learn a lot by looking at who they choose to be next to.

    Tara
    The Math Maniac

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    1. For sure...I love to have the students give input on desk arranging--once they know each other a little more. I am spying on them these first weeks to see what I can learn about them!

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  2. I love this! What a great way to show students how math is used in real life. I downloaded this scenario and plan to use with my students for problem solving Friday. Thanks!

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  3. LOVE everything about this!!! Thanks so much for linking up!!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork!

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