PBL projects surface area volume

Soft Drink Project Part 5: The Show

This is the finale of a series of blog posts detailing a student posed project. To get the full picture, begin reading at part one:

Soft Drink Project Part 1: The Framework
As the project drew to a close, students began to place a valuation on their work. Very seldom did the topic of grades come up during the process, but even students know they are playing a game. They asked me how I would be grading, and I told them we would be using our self/peer/teacher model as always.

Even after the entire process, students were still musing on the possibilities of their work.
Two tweets sent to me from students
One student asked if she could put her work on her blog. Her innocence surprised me. She felt like she had to ask permission to put her own work on a personal blog. Up to this point, she has seen learning as the teacher’s possession. She had never encountered anything that she would want to share. I told her that I was the one who needed to ask permission for her brilliant work. The public audience was growing.
Administrators poked their heads in throughout the process. Input from grocery store managers (in the form of a student’s boss) and other business experts contributed to the authenticity. In the end, the audience helped, but the students didn’t need outside approval to feel truly proud of the work they had done.
A teacher wandered into my class today and commented that they loved the atmosphere. After I explained their new project, she asked if it was the same class who designed the cool pop boxes. Apparently the students carried their work into other classes.
A display case was designed, and most designs made it in. It now stands as a proof of the intriguing mixture of mathematical imagination, rigour, and creativity.
The finalized display case
A closer look
One last time

What began as an innocent opportunity to pose questions about a curious situation bloomed into excellent mathematics. The sheer volume of work that went into the different designs was several times more than I could have ever gotten out of the same students with a dictated assignment. It showed me that an interesting starting point, a little bit of student control, and a willingness to learn alongside can create unbelievably powerful learning.

Now my efforts turn to replicating the feeling as we move into a new unit, but such is the life of a teacher.


One reply on “Soft Drink Project Part 5: The Show”

As an Educational Assistant in this class I was able to see first hand how this project took on a life of it's own. I have been in classes with many of these students before and I have never seen this kind of engagement and ownership of their learning. I love it.

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