Mrs. Anderson sang the 12 Days of Christmas with the students. i believe they also read a book about the traditional Christmas song. The students were then asked to figure out, just how many gifts does the person receive in the song, exactly?
Students were left to their own devices, chart paper and markers, to figure out how they were going to solve this question. Mrs. Anderson shared some of the attempts with me, which ranged from writing a number sentence, to creating a graphic or pictorial image of the songs' gifts, to the construction of a list, table or graph. Others were drawing and grouping pictures of the gifts from the song.
These types of activities allow the students to use mathematical processes to solve a problem. It does not dictate exactly which method they need to use. By doing this, the students reveal plenty of interesting data concerning their abilities to understand and apply the knowledge they currently possess in math. It gives the teacher an opportunity to see what their students truly know about certain concepts and mathematical application or skills.
Bravo, Alice and Beth for tying in music, language and the holiday with a mathematical problem solving situation!! One quote from Mrs. Anderson that resonates with me is when she said, "There wasn't a single kid saying, 'I don't want to do this,' or 'I don't know how to do this.' They were all trying their best to figure out the answer.
Afterwards, the groups can share their process and enlighten the rest of the class with the various ways one can approach a problem using mathematical processes.
Consider this a gift from Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Bomberry. Try it out this last week before Christmas Break. It can be easily adapted to suit older grades (have them come up with an algebraic formula perhaps?) or other examples of compounded/growing patterns. It also lends itself to various strands.