Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 12)

Menus- Menus are a great way to add some challenge and pizzazz to your everyday curriculum. Menus can be created for a variety of purposes and include a variety of activities. 

Last year, I had a group of fifth graders that I had the opportunity to teach in fourth grade. Since I'd had them for a full school year, I really wanted to crank up the learning expectations in the classroom. I had a lot of fast finishers. I decided to channel their energy by using math menus. 

The basic idea was that they would receive one menu for each nine-week grading period. They would have the entire nine weeks to complete the menu board, or choice board as I sometimes called them. When they completed the board, they received a homework pass. (I know some of you are saying that you would not want them to skip doing their homework, but the amount of work and thinking required to complete the menu far exceeded what was required to complete the weekly homework.) 

What was on the menus? I used a book as a guide for creating really great menus. It's called Differentiating Instruction with Menus (click the link to find out more about it). It has templates for a variety of menus and product ideas as well. I typically utilized the book for the menu templates and the product ideas to create activities for the skills the students would learn during each nine-week period. I tailored the menus to emphasize critical thinking skills and reinforce fifth grade content. 

Here are two examples of the menus that I used with my students. The second page of each menu gives product guidelines and requirements. You will notice references to puzzles and Marcy Cook Bags. I will discuss my Puzzle Box in a later post. The Marcy Cook bags involve the tiling tasks that I talked about last week.     

This is a choice board. To complete this board, students needed to complete all of the activities in a column, row, or diagonal. 

This is a game show menu. In order to complete this board, students needed to earn a total of 65 points with at least one activity from each category or earn a total of 100 points with at least one activity from each category. The number of points earned determined whether the student received a single-subject homework pass or an all-subject homework pass. 

Here are some samples of the products created by the students.