Gobbler’s Dilemma

I think every teacher struggles with keeping the kids engaged and learning during “short weeks” of school before breaks.  This year, my team of teachers at school seemed to have an extra challenge as not only did we have a two day school week but we also owed the kids a cross ball tournament as an incentive for winning the school’s annual food drive and I needed to give a common math assessment to every student on the team as well.  An idea was quickly born to have every teacher on the team (Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts) give my math assessment in their 1st hour on Tuesday morning followed by the Mathalicious lesson Gobbler’s Dilemma in every class.

Gobbler’s Dilemma lends itself very easy to this plan as the math involved is very straight forward and easy and the focus is more on the logic and strategy involved in stores deciding if they should be open or closed on Thanksgiving.  I provided the lesson guide and student handouts to each teacher for their class and as a team we went through the lesson on our planning period to make sure everyone was ready for Tuesday.  Our team of students included 2 classes that are taught in a collaborative setting (2 teachers) due to special learning needs and 2 classes of Advanced Pre- Algebra and the lesson seemed to work equally well in both classes.

The basic premise of the lesson is for students to use the information given and logic to decide if their store should be open or not on Thanksgiving.  I did make some modifications for our collab class by creating the chart for Question 1 on the board in a lay out that was a little more easy to follow.  They seemed to really be struggling with the “matrix” style chart so we created more of a list on the board as a class and then they were able to fill in the matrix chart with fewer issues.  I also modified question 3 a bit to help with student focus.  Question 3 calls for students to engage with a partner in a strategy game to see how stores must make the decision to open on Thanksgiving or not without knowing what their competitors are doing.  Instead of having students do this in pairs we did it as a whole class.  The students were store A and I was store B.  I selected a class spokesperson who would poll the class about if they wanted to open Thursday or Friday while I was in the hall.  Both the class and myself would write their decision on a mini-white board and then would reveal our decisions when I came back in the room.    I really liked that modification the best.  It allowed the students to engage in the strategy game but also allowed me to help drive the discussion and  keep things on track on what was a high energy day for the kids.  They also loved playing against me and wanted to try and beat my store however they could.

This lesson is a great example of how engaged students can be when involved in a lesson that they view as important and worthwhile.  For the 65 or so minutes we worked on the lesson they were engaged and really thinking deeply about the math and how it impacted the decision making of stores nationwide.  It was also fabulous for the “non-math” teachers on our team to get to engage the kids in a mathematical discussion to show them that regardless of content area intelligent adults should be able to talk about math.  Below are some of the kids reviews of the lessons.  Excuse the misspellings I am typing them as the kids wrote them!

I liked this activity because it is using math with real work things that are interesting to 7th grade students.

It was fun because I’m very competitive and love things like this.

I liked it because it was competitive.  It was a fun way to spend time.  Questions were difficult to understand.

I did like this activity because it’s using math in real life situations.

Dear Mathalicious, I really enjoyed your lessons.  They led to great and interesting conversations.

The lessons Mrs. Powers reached today was interesting and I learned.

I like this lesson, the reason is because maybe I can stop stores from doing Black Friday on Thanksgiving with a good reason why.

I like this lesson because I like going to the mall, so I can relate to it.  And this is kind of cool because it gives you a little idea of how stye run the stores and make money.

I loved this lesson because it made me feel like I was real store owner.  Also that is changed the way I look at stores that open at Thanksgiving.

This lesson is cold and we should do it more.

I liked the lesson.  I think that the dision we made was good and we learned and had fun.

For me, the lesson was  a fantastic way to keep the kids engaged and talking about math on an otherwise chaotic day.  I am sure Gobbler’s Dilemma will be a part of our team Thanksgiving tradition from here on out.  Here’s hoping Mathalicious comes up with a great lesson ASAP for the day before Winter break!

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