In February I told you about a horrifying experience I had in a classroom full of rabid, blood thirsty first graders.  I am happy to say that I fully recovered from my physical and emotional injuries and have continued to teach the Math Superstars lesson to Ivan’s class every other week since that horrible day.

In the aftermath of this event I made some changes to my teaching style as well as my expectations of the angry mob, I mean, class.  As a result, teaching Math Superstars has become one of the most fulfilling parts of my week.  I have enjoyed getting to know Ivan’s classmates and am continually amazed at how their minds work as they continue to figure out the world around them.

One of the biggest changes I made was to have the kids work in groups as opposed to individually.  As individuals they raced to answer the questions and bombarded me with answers ranging from “37!” or “Blue!” in response to a “Yes or no” type problem.  In groups they have resolved to work together as a team and it has been a joy to watch the different dynamics develop as they work through the questions in front of them.  Kids that took no part in the lesson as individuals have shined as they now work with their table-mates to figure out the answer together.  Conversely, kids that wanted to blurt out answers to the class now take the lead in their groups to help their friends get the right answer as a team.  As a result, watching their development has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life.

It is with great sadness that I am closing in on my final Math Superstars lesson of Ivan’s first grade school year.  I will miss preparing my lessons with Ivan the night before class and will treasure the relationships with all of the kids that I have grown close to over the past year.  In a few short weeks Ivan and I will leave first grade behind and prepare for a fun filled summer before the new adventure of second grade begins in the fall.

With that in mind, I asked the class today how I can make the last Math Superstars a memorable one.  I asked them if there is anything new, different or fun we can do to celebrate the end of the year during our final lesson.   This is where I need your help because their answers were not only surprising but present some challenges that I did not anticipate…

When I asked the question of the class I was greeted with an unexpected number of raised hands and creative ideas.  Their suggestions were as unique and surprising as anything I could have dreamt up on my own. In no particular order I have been asked to do the following…
-         Teach the class long division
-          Teach the lesson outside
-          Eliminate the use of paper and pencils and use props and outside materials to calculate the answers
-          Teach more than just one weekly worksheet so “we can do even more math”
-          Teach them about The Civil War as part of the math lesson

Individually, each of these ideas has its merits.  Going outside is begging for distraction, I know, but I am willing to give it a whirl.  Props should be easy to assemble with proper planning and if Ivan’s teacher is okay with allowing me a larger block of time then I would be glad to add as many worksheets as their attention span can handle.  

But long division? To first graders? And The Civil War incorporated into a math lesson? Are you kidding me?

Their creativity and excitement makes it unable for me to deny their requests and I am determined to satisfy them all to the best of my ability.  I am sure with two weeks to plan I can work through this like any other problem but I am not sure that my solutions will be enough to meet their desires.  Even more than that, I wonder if my approach will be, um, age appropriate when it is all said and done.

Sample Question:

“27,000 soldiers were wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.  If 5,000 of these resulted in the amputation of limbs, how many arms and legs did the wounded soldiers possess when the battle was over? Also, what percentage of soldiers kept their limbs intact?”

In my mind this question would involve a reenactment of the battle on the playground complete with fake muskets and fireworks.

As you can see, I run the risk of straying far from the first grade curriculum as well as the acceptable rules and regulations of Ivan’s elementary school.  So again, this is why I need your help.  I welcome any ideas, tips, or legal advice any of you might have in regard to this challenge.  Comment or e-mail us anything that might make the final lesson of Math Superstars a memorable one.  Of course by “memorable” I would like to think that the memory will not end with a meeting with the principal or any other authorities.  

Thanks in advance for your help!