Taresa O'Brien

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Celebrating Pi day – Investigating Circles

So for a Friday lesson with my Year 8 maths class I was looking for something that would have my students motivated, moving around (did I mention it’s the second last lesson), collaborating and thinking for themselves. So I saw that circles would be coming up soon in our current topic Measurement and jumped ahead with a little task on circles. This is a simple task that can be accessed by younger students and probably Year 8 is about the limit.


In Office 365 I posted the links to use for our shared Excel chart and the Padlet page.

Our school uses this platform for collaboration, posting homework, shared files and more. Here is what the students saw.

Circles -Office 365

In Padlet I posted:

Circles occur in nature, they are all around us. They have some very cool properties.

What patterns, properties or features can you find about circles?

Go find two circles, take its measurements and photos of your circles.

Return to the classroom and fill your results into the excel table.

On the Padlet add your group names, images and findings.

(Well similar as you can see in my post)

Circles Padlet post

In Office 365 I included this shared document for all of our results.

Circles Excel online

This shared document didn’t work so well on the spot so I wrote up two tables on the board while they were out of the room. That way I could project our Padlet page. The students love to see their work on the board as they do it.

Here is some of their posts. They are a little dull as I left out the ones with them pulling faces or showing their measuring skills. Note we didn’t have time to address the spelling and grammar.

Circles student work drink bottle Circles student work plastic cup Circles student work roundaboutCircles student work bike

I particularly liked that one group measured the roundabout (at the smaller less used drop and kiss – safety first).

So I “set them free” to go look for circles around the school with a 10 minute time frame. They took their slates, phones, a length of string, their rulers and their group of three. Some preferred to stay in the room but most of them were eager to go out and explore.

Upon their return they wrote up their results, posted their images and some had time to add other pictures in nature they found. Before the end of the lesson we stopped and discussed findings, what we expected to find, what we found and why? We covered this in a 45 minute lesson and all of the groups posted their results with images.

2015-03-29 17.48.46

Here are the results being written up.

So we stopped towards the end of the lesson and talked about our findings. We discussed:

  • Pi …of course. Most students expected to see Pi in the Circumference/diameter column.  But it wasn’t the case in many of the results. So we talked about that.
  • Accuracy of our results and why they were out. There are a number of factors and this is great for reflecting on the process and the limitations of our results. Some cheeky SACE prep for Year 11 & 12.
  • Mathematics in nature.
  • The origins of Pi.

My reflections:

I would have liked a little more time to get more results on the Padlet. Though I felt we used our time well and had a meaningful lesson.

I will have another go at collaborating online in a shared document again. I think it worked for some but it would’ve eaten up our time to get that working for all. Padlet was successful. It is so easy to use and so visually appealing. I am a huge fan of this shared work space.

I have a set seating plan so when I set the rules for choosing groups the students they had to work with someone not at their desk. This worked well. Three per group was a good size for the task.

So we had a great opportunity to use our ICT, they worked in teams to explore and investigate circles and Pi. They collaborated to find results, publish their work for their peers and then reflected on their learning. I could go on with why this simple lesson was in my mind a successful one, but I will leave you to go out and just give something similar a go yourself. Feel free to use this task. It is not a new one, just my take on it.

I enjoyed this lesson and so did the students. Hey, don’t forget Maths is fun!


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What a success!

My first foray into using web pages. Its the 21st Century and I am in my Professional Learning day blogging, posting and setting up my e Portfolio! What a modern day Professional I am blossoming into. So know I need to see what makes me tick, what skills do I have, what do I know.

Let’s start exploring!

Check this out, ……5 ways to identify your strengths. 

With so many ideas about what I would like to work on I need to stop thinking about where to start, make a decision and DO IT! Every been so overwhelmed with choices that you don’t act because you don’t want to make the wrong choice, or under informed choice. Learning how to make good decisions is key to starting on your path of enlightenment (well lets start with self improvement 101).

Motivational Penguin