80 THOUGHTFUL ONE-PAGE ACTIVITIES FOR PLEASURE, INSIGHT, AND CHALLENGE
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Many students get tired of the routine of textbook drill and practice. Even students who complain about math work, when they feel less threatened by overload or failure, will say that they want to:
* be surprised
* choose what “grabs” them from among several possibilities.
* experience something from a really different area of math.
* do something that is a meaningful lesson in itself
* not a stepping stone to some far future learning goal.
* be rewarded by the doing rather than just by the finishing
* be challenged, caught off balance, and forced to scratch their heads (as long as the challenge feels within their reach).
* be asked a question that throws them into a new mode of thinking.
Without this occurring on a regular basis there can be a shrinking of true math ability. A fixation on completing only the so-called “basics” can even ultimately starve the mathematical curiosity and initiate a “re-teaching syndrome” (year-in, year-out forgetting and re-learning) or a “robot syndrome” (ability to do only what looks just like what’s been done before). Both work against skill deepening and development.
These are the reasons this set of Nuggets has been developed. Many more were published nationally some time ago, and they were used with satisfaction by many thousands of children. The best have been culled from them, re-edited, and updated where needed. They continue to get a very positive response from many students and teachers who need breaks from the routine of step-by-step instruction but who want to feel that real learning and thought development is going on.
[ See sample pages ]
The Nuggets are arranged roughly from easier (generally for younger students) to the more challenging (generally for older students). But keep in mind that many earlier Nuggets can create interest and challenge, when extended, for older students and many later Nuggets, if more carefully introduced, will work well for younger students. An Answer Key with Comments on each activity is in the back of the book. Consulting it beforehand for the desired activity will get you clearer about the whole Nugget. Be sure to look also at the symbols in the upper left-hand corner of each Nugget to determine what materials it requires so you may assemble them before starting.
Uses for Nuggets
- To create a deepening of thought when it seems a student is simply responding to math mechanically.
- To periodically offset the boredom and routine that can result from continued use of one sourcebook for math instruction.
- To create uses for math skills in unusual new contexts.
- To create appreciation for the wider horizons of math and its many interconnections.
- To add challenge for the student who quickly masters the daily math.
- To create rewards for meeting routine work goals.
- To create jump-off points for further instruction in many math topics.
- To create motivation for students who have “tuned out” of math.
- To counterbalance the tendency toward mechanical thinking that can result from daily use of traditional sequential textbooks.