Last week, we had one of those times that math teachers dream about and I told my students that I’d write about on my blog. “What?? Don’t write about us!! (all said with grins on their faces)”

We are looking at the area of two dimensional figures, doing a little bit of exploring on how exactly we find these areas which leads towards the formula.  I like this approach because it does give them the chance to be hands on, to get up and move a little bit, and allows their own thinking to guide them towards the overall formula.

That day, we were looking at the area of triangles and how if we figure the area of a rectangle and then use only half of that area, that’s our triangle.  Pretty basic, but a good time all the same.  Well, we started with group work, then divided out into “I get it”, “I kind of get it”, “I’d love for you just to give me the answers because I don’t get it” groups (yes, I have fun with these).  My upper level kids have just thrived this year being able to talk through problems, solutions, and how problems work.

They worked through a problem, came up with their solution, and wanted it to checked, so I did that and told them it was wrong.  Wow, I guess I should have figured all the problems to make sure all of them were correct because the hornet’s nest of math thinkers went into overdrive trying to prove the book wrong!  I say that jokingly because they really did, they tried different ways, drew pictures, asked each other through each step, all coming to the same conclusion, different than the “book answer”.

Well, thankfully, our special class is right after math, so I delivered this riled up group of kids to PE (go run off some energy) and I came back to do the problem myself.  Maybe there was a problem in their figuring, maybe they were rushing through things.  Nope.  Same dang answer as the kids, different than the given solution.  So, I open up the online component of our series, and sure enough, the book was wrong.  Oh my goodness! 🙂

PE is over and the kids come back to see my work on the board and jump all over it: “That’s what we did! If you did that, you are wrong too!!” (No fear here, none at all!)  So, we talked through my solution, and I told them we were all right and the book was wrong!

It was a great experience for them being able to “prove the book wrong” but in the bigger picture, they found their voice.  These kids aren’t always willing to stand up and say “stop it” so being able to do something like this, prove their point while standing up for themselves was huge.  Not only that, the other students in the class got to see this problem done a number of different ways, all coming up with the same solution, great learning for them! And to prove the book wrong, the cherry on top! 🙂

Now, of course, I’ve created a monster because now if any problem is wrong, “Are you sure that’s the right answer??” 🙂