Making Math Public and Visible

I had a very visual and enthusiastic group of grade 7/8 math students last year.  They were only too glad for an excuse to do some visual math like our super fun math and art show.

This year has been a little different.  My group is not naturally enthusiastic about math, and has needed some encouragement – and 11th graders require a different kind of nurturing than do middle-schoolers.  I’m definitely still learning.   I’m hoping that making some math visible will help to push things forward for my students, and help them to take their own work more seriously.

Math Wall

Here is the start of our Math Wall.  I put up 4 x 8 sheets of soundboard ($12/sheet), and covered it with paper to create a 14’ wide x 8’ tall bulletin board.  This is in the hallway outside of the classroom in which I teach 2 of my 3 sections of Algebra.

Fly or Drive

I put up our current project (…something I adapted from Dan’s Travel Lesson, and from Mr. Ward’s excellent essential question), with some teacher notes.  But I hope that my voice is eclipsed soon by student work.  Once there’s student work published on the wall, I hope that they get some public feedback.

Guess the Number

I’m also going to include a regular estimation or problem of the week, or post an interactive game on the Math Wall.  I’m hoping to nurture a culture of scholarship and connections with people outside of math class.  I’m starting with a great number guessing game I originally found HERE.  Hopefully it will get competitive.  Stay tuned for a report!

I’d love more ideas on how to leverage public space into student engagement and investment.  Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Making Math Public and Visible

  1. Fawn Nguyen

    I love that this is more in a public space, Nat. I’m stealing your Fly or Drive problem as I was thinking about that exact question for my family to drive or to Portland a few summers ago. Portland from LA is about 1,000+ miles, but the overnight stays and meals along the way (and TIME!!) made me wonder if we should have flown instead. I play Guess-the-Number in class sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing, Nat.

  2. Nat Post author

    It took a couple of weeks, but I’m seeing kids lingering at the number guess, and a couple have even asked me to post more clues. One kid told me that now there were “…exactly 701 possibilities,” (I think he wasn’t considering the negative numbers). This wall is also just outside of the administrative office, and I’ve seen some of the staff lingering there as well. Maybe I can set up a competition between students and staff…

    It’s always wonderful to hear your (virtual) voice, Fawn. Thanks for stopping in.


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