The Name is Munch, Math Munch

I’ve mentioned Math Munch before and tweeted its scrumptious bits every now and then. I wanted teachers to see the site and share its contents with their students. But truth be told, we teachers often get side-tracked, we’d be all gung-ho about something in September, only to see it vanish by the first snowfall. (I’m a nostalgic liar. Haven’t seen snow in last 11 years living in southern California. But you get my drift.)

Then as I was watching this TEDx video — thanks to Shecky Riemann (@SheckyR) at Math-Frolic! for featuring it in his post — it dawned on me to put this engaging and thoughtful resource that is Math Munch directly into my students’ hands. I figure I’m much more reliable when I involve other people in my commitments to do things. Because it’ll then be everyone else’s fault if things go awry.

Before I shared the video with the kids, I told them what I knew about Math Munch:

  • That three passionate teachers named Paul Salomon, Anna Weltman, and Justin Lanier created MM to help students learn and love math beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • That Justin is a good dancer, and what a privilege it was for me to meet and talk with him this past summer.
  • That Paul created this lovely art piece that hangs prominently in my home.

  • That last year I did a few things with my students that I learned from MM, like the Weight Puzzles and The Numbers Project.
  • That I’m sorry I don’t know Anna, but from her work and this video, I find her fresh and inspiring.

I showed the first 8 minutes of the video. We then talked about why the team spoke of Marjorie Rice first. What is the significance of sharing her story, her discovery, her pure enjoyment of doing something mathematical. What is wrong with how math is perceived among the general public. How awful it is to confine math within the classroom and inside a textbook. How wrong, just wrong, that math is about the best and the brightest.

It was this slide in the video that gave me an idea for how I may incorporate Math Munch into my curriculum.

The five words — DO, MAKE, WATCH, READ, PLAY — efficiently categorize what my students can do with each post.

I came up with this MM_Activities handout.

My plan

Each student gets this handout, just 1 per quarter. No other handouts — saves tons of paper. All work is submitted on students’ own paper.

Initially I was going to assign MM every other week. I’m now assigning it as a quarterly project. They are to complete 15 tasks (3 in each of the 5 categories). I think this is reasonable because each MM post has 3 features, so I’m really asking kids to read and interact with essentially 5 posts in a 10-week period. The open time frame is less stressful for the kids — and for me.

At first I also thought of assigning everyone to the most recent post, say “Sept. 03, 2013” post. But MM is already 2 years old, and this would be such a waste to miss all the archived goodness. So, kids get to choose! Not to mention I’d get bored very quickly reading 142 reflections of the same post! But the real reason of having them choose is I (me me me!!!) will get to consume a lot more MM this way. Teaching is just inefficient if we don’t learn from it ourselves, right?

I’m crazy excited about this. My kids will totally rock this project because they’re awesome. My kids are better than yours. What now.

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