Teaching Math Through Projects

As I reflected upon this post, I thought, well this is project based learning.  Now I do not proclaim to know much about project based learning.  My understanding is students work to complete an ultimate project that connects to the betterment of their community all the while learning components of concepts which are in turned applied to completing the project.

What I have observed within an 8th grade classroom over the past two weeks slightly mirrors this.  The teacher introduced The Bunny Project by conducting a mini-lesson on plotting points on a coordinate grid.  Once the mini-lesson was complete, students were able to begin working on the project.  The first part of the project calls for students to plot points in order to create the image of a rabbit.  With each component of the project, the teacher strategically scheduled mini-lessons to discuss the concepts students would need to apply within the project.


In her 15-20 minutes mini-lesson (of a 70 minute class) the teacher implemented short activities requiring students to derive the rules for translation, reflection, dilation and rotation.  Most activities were adapted from those within the Navigating Through Geometry 6-8 book.  Immediately following the mini-lesson, students were able to work on their projects.

Here’s an example of the teacher’s weekly lesson plan.  Monday, she conducted a mini-lesson on translation and students worked on part 2 sliding or translating the rabbit along the coordinate plane. Tuesday, the mini-lesson covered reflection allowing students, who were ready, to move on to part 3 of the project and those who needed to finish up parts 1 and/or 2 had the freedom to do so.

IMG_4638 IMG_4639

On Friday, they summed up the four transformations with a dance: Dance video

Students were engaged, received immediate feedback and had an opportunity to immediately apply concepts taught.  IMG_4640

Which made be ask, what if we taught all math concepts like this?  I know there would need to be opportunities for additional practice built in.  Wouldn’t this cut down on the number of Kunta software worksheets or even numbered problems assigned out of the textbook?  Wouldn’t this require conceptual teaching in order for students to apply it within the project?

Or is it just me?

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