Lately I have been battling with a group of year 8’s who have been getting bored with Pythagoras’ Theorem. There really are a lot of boring problems out there that they would much rather avoid. So I set them the task of creating their own questions that I might be able to use in future years (nice little resource tactic!). Some of these students were highly unmotivated, undisciplined, and unfocussed, but the work they produced was amazing.
Here’s how it happened:
1. I showed them a powerpoint that I had previously prepared with 2 Pythagorean examples. My powerpoint is here
2. Then I set them the task of creating their own Pythagorean example using Powerpoint. The problem had to be useful*, and make people laugh.
The winning team would receive a free beverage at the canteen (I also gave prizes to a few others).
Students were focused and excited about their work. 96% of students uploaded a finished powerpoint presentation. Some had errors in their solutions, but all used Pythagoras in an appropriate way. Take a look at some of their work (this is all unedited so expect to see some mistakes). Pretty impressive for a group of students who have struggled in the past.
I have created an online survey for students to fill out next lesson to see how much they enjoyed the experience, and how much their understanding improved. Will update this post once I get the results.
*Useful to a certain situation (i.e. very loose)