We decided to celebrate a departure and were sent packets of colorful balloons. Most children, no matter what their age is, get extremely excited when they see balloons, especially when they have to blow them. Attempting to blow the balloons the students spoke;
R – How big should mine be?
B – This is my tactic.
R – It is impossible!
S – Can you help?
S – Almost no one can do it.
B – Except R.
R – I just keep blowing really hard.
S – How do you blow it?
S – Show us.
Watching the students from a distance, I decided to record their thrill. As I was writing their conversation down, they asked each other questions, offered help to one another and showed off their strategies. R was able to figure it out and shared her strategy. Although R said it would be impossible at the beginning, she persevered.
I suddenly connected their conversation to some of our Math lessons, and how students feel when they are introduced to new topics. Most wonder how to approach the calculations and similar conversations ensue.
Later on that day, there were more balloons to be blown. As soon as they were taken out of the bag there was a scramble for them. A couple of students successfully blew theirs and shared their completely different methods. Interestingly, I realized as I matched the words to the students, the words each particular student spoke showed the way they approach their work in class. Blowing Balloons… Math?