We're midway through our exploration of the order of operations. I wanted to give my students a chance to breathe (mentally) and allow their learnings to cement in a little. I wanted to have an activity where they could practice what they've learned so far and where I could see what they knew.
I remembered a clock activity that Fawn did with her students last year and decided to morph her idea into an activity for my students. I told my students that each group was going to design their own clock. The assignment was met with lots of interest and excitement! I explained that - instead of each number on the clock - they would write an expression that demonstrated their ability to use the order of operations correctly.
As the groups worked, I was able to walk around and eavesdrop on conversations. It was wonderful to see my students trying different expressions, analyzing why some weren't working, arguing for their way of solving, and rejoicing together when they finally found one they all agreed worked. Fabulous!
As each group finished their planning, they got a
blank clock face to write their expressions on.
They then decorated them as they chose and then proudly displayed them on a wall for all to see.
There were lots of benefits for me as well. Instead of grading 173 papers with several problems on each paper, I was able to simply walk around, talk to my students, write some quick notes about problem areas I was seeing (exponents!) and make notes on individual students. The project turned out to be a wonderful formative assessment opportunity for me. I learned all I needed to know about where each individual student was and I was very easily able to see where some reteaching was needed, what areas the students had totally mastered, even found a couple of students who are ready for some extensions.
Next week.... way more practice with exponents, a little more practice with parentheses, I'll throw in some embedded parentheses and, finally, throw some dreaded fractions into the expressions.
If you try this activity, I'd love to hear how your students reacted and I'd love to get any suggestions for making the activity better next time.
Below, I've put a few more examples of student work and a blank clock, just in case you'd like to try the project.