Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cartoon Corner

Rat, Mouse, Cheese, Animal, Mammal I love the "Mathematics teaching in the middle school" magazine put out by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  In addition to all sorts of great articles, every month has a Cartoon Corner. 

The Cartoon Corner is an activity whose questions are based upon a mathematical cartoon.  For instance, the one for March 2015 involves a Fox Trot cartoon on Pi. 

The whole thing has 6 questions that all deal with the cartoon or the topic the cartoon covers.  The first question actually has students use four measurements to find the ratio of the circumference to the diameter (Perfect for my Geometry class as we just started that today.).  The second question deals with the area of a circle for each pumpkin from question one.

Question three asks students to justify the date and time people celebrate Pi day. The fourth question asks them about something one of the characters said and its relationship to pi.  The fifth question discusses which approximation is better and has students calculate relative error.  The last question asks them to find a fraction that gives a better approximation of pi than 22/7.

I really like this activity because it requires students to explain their thinking about various aspects of the problem.  In addition, most questions do require higher level thinking to find the answer. On the next page, the answers are provided.  This is followed by comments from people who helped field test the activity.

I've used a couple of these in the past with my high school English Language Learners and it worked really well.  I used one with Dagwood and his turkey sandwiches.  I enjoyed it because it made the students think about serving size.

I belong to NCTM so I can get access to all of the previous cartoon corners.  I love them and use them a lot in class.