There are a lot of ways to try to engage students in their learning, but nothing engages students more than giving them opportunities to use their own voice and choice to direct their learning. If you haven’t invited students to write their own math problems, then you are missing out on a great way to engage students in math tasks. Simply asking students to create their own math problems challenges them to be creative, communicate clearly, and have a thorough understanding of mathematical formulas and equations. You can even take it a step further by inviting your students to share their math problems with their peers around the world!
This week, we celebrate Tkachuk from Ukraine, Kathryn, Katelyn, Rogan, Kate, Lauren, and MaryEllen from Iowa, JJ from Massachusetts, and Cheryl from California, USA as our PenPals of the Week. These students recently completed global math projects and developed their own word problems to challenge PenPals from around the world.
Math is a universal language, and students around the world use different strategies and systems for solving math equations. In A World of Geometry, students share the different ways they use numbers to find the perimeter and area of shapes. Then, students design their own math challenges.
Similarly, in Multiplication & Division, students discuss the different strategies they use to apply multiplication and division in order to solve problems before designing math challenges.
As students share about the different ways they solve math problems, they also share a little bit about their own lives. Tkachuk and Lauren did this when they introduced their math problems to their PenPals.
“Greetings from Ukraine! I am a student at the Nemirovsky College of Civil Engineering and Architecture of VNAU. I'm studying in the 1st course in the field of land management. To solve the problem we know that the bank has a cylinder shape. We know a volume of 300 cubic centimeters and a radius of 2 cm. From the formula of the cylinder volume V = π r² h. find the height h = V / π r² year. We make substitution and we find the height h = 300 / 4π = 75π = 75 * 3,14 = 235.5 cm.”
-Tkachuk from Ukraine
“Hi Gideon, I'm Lauren. I'm 10 years old, I'm in 4th grade, and I'm from Iowa, right above Missouri in fact. I love my dogs Mia and Max! I have brown hair and eyes. The problem we had to do was figure out if a square or a circle pizza could fit more toppings. The circle pizza equation was 3.14 x 25 = 78.5 and the square was 9 x 9 = 81. So the square pizza could fit more toppings!”
-Lauren from Iowa, USA
PenPals also shared the strategies they use to solve problems.
“Hi, my name is Katelyn and I am using the skill Hang 7. Hang 7 is a way of solving a division problem. So say I had 48 dogs and I needed to put them into four equal groups I would use the skill, Hang 7.Have you ever learned how to do Hang 7 and Do you know how to do Hang 7?”
-Katelyn W. from Iowa, USA
“The mathematics tasks I picked were 9 x 9, 8 x 7 and 3 x 3. The way I solved this equation was I added nine nine times. The answer to this problem is 81. Another equation I picked was 8 x 7. This is how I solved it, I added 8 seven times. The answer is 56. I also picked the equation 3 x 3. The way I solved this was I added 3 three times. The answer I got was 9.”
-JJ from Massachusetts
Check out the math problems that our PenPals of the Week created. How many can your students solve?
“Jamie ran the circumference of her school field. Anthony ran the diameter of the same field. Anthony and Jamie both want to know how far they ran. The radius of the field is 50 feet. For pi round to 3.14. What is the answer?”
-Kathryn D. from Iowa, USA
“This story is about my friend Wexton. Wexton wanted to find the area of his bedroom. It was a 25 by 25 room. What is the perimeter of his room?”
-Rogan from Iowa, USA
“The math skill that I am going to use is area and perimeter. Katelyn E built a fence for her back yard. The perimeter of the yard is 3457 inches by 2435 inches. What is the area and perimeter of the fence. When you finish with the problem please comment the answer and I will see if it is right or wrong.”
-Kate S. from Iowa
“My brother had a class celebration and each kid wants 2 cupcakes. my brother brought 56 for the boys and 61 for the girls, there are 5 girls and 9 boys how many cupcakes are left over? there are 1 extra from girls and 2 extra from the boys.”
-MaryEllen from Iowa
“Danielle C, Jalaysia D, and Cheryl L went on a shopping trip together. Danielle had $55, Jalaysia $50, and Cheryl L had $45. They had to share 2/5 or 0.4 of their money combined to their siblings. They each bought a pair of triplets outfits. Each outfit was $15. Then they bought a bag of popcorn and movie tickets for $10. How much money did each person have left and how much money did they have left combined? (Warning: My question is kind of confusing and hard.)”
-Cheryl from California
These PenPals told us that they loved using their knowledge of mathematical equations to design problems and challenge their peers around the world. They also didn’t just discuss math with their PenPals, but they got to learn a lot more about their PenPals’s countries and culture.
“My favorite part of learning with pen pals is that everyone has a different point of view. You can see what other people think. I like learning from people who dont live in the USA because they have different cultures.”
-Kathryn from Iowa
“My favorite unit was learning about culture through clothing.”
-Rogan from Iowa
"My favorite part of PenPals has been observing what other students around the world have thought about different topics like plants and animals. Also, I like learning about different people’s cultures and what they do where they live."
-JJ from Massachusetts
“My favorite thing about learning with pen pals is that we get to learn about people and cultures around the world! It is always so fun and interesting to learn so many facts about different places around the world!”
-Katelyn from Iowa
“My favorite thing about penpal schools is that we get to work together with people around the world. I also like how we get to learn about different cultures around the world and what people do and things they eat in their community.”
-Kate from Iowa
"My favorite part of PenPal Schools is how people from around the world get to interact with each other and get to tell each other about their different cultures, hobbies, and likes and dislikes."
-Cheryl from California
“I love PenPal Schools and I’m so thankful my teacher was able for us to have this resource! My absolute favorite part of penpal schools is that it helps us learn about different cultures and continents and how other continents could do stuff differently.”
-Lauren from Iowa
"I like PenPals because you can interact with people from all over, and you talk about your opinions. Also, you can learn from each other. Our PenPals can become our friends and as I said previously we can learn from them and about where they live and their culture."
-MaryEllen from Iowa
It’s easy to give students choice and voice as they learn and practice math. Invite your students to challenge and be challenged by PenPals all over the world and enroll in a collaborative math project today. Project-based learning lessons are designed for students ages 8 and up. A World of Geometry starts on Monday, May 21!