cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ode on a six-ootsie Tootsie — a love poem to @Trianglemancsd

What an amazing but crazy first week! OK, sure, it was only two days long, but still...

Sick of reading and rereading the various classroom and school rules, I wanted to dive into some mathematics lest I drive myself and my kids totally nuts. So I decided to use Christopher Danielson's Tootsie Roll-sharing problem from his #TMC13 presentation, along with some of his "fun facts" background, as a first math day diagnostic activity and as a platform for introducing my new norms and rubric for collaboration.

Even though I felt like I was just throwing together a slide show launch during my first-period prep, it worked incredibly well!

My Keynote slides and a PDF version of the slide deck are on the Math Teacher Wiki.

Here it is in a nutshell: 

•    Visualize a 6-ootsie Tootsie
•    Now imagine 4 kids who want to share it equally and completely.
•    Can your group come up with AT LEAST TWO WAYS to accomplish this?

Both the 8th graders and the 6th graders had a lot of pretty deep conversations about whether you were thinking of sharing it in terms of number of ootsies or in terms of parts of a Tootsie. Wholes and parts, plus funny-sounding words and the chance to introduce the word synecdoche.

One of the nicest things about doing this was that it helped a lot of kids see that "complicated" and "deeper" are not necessarily the same thing. 

What's not to like?


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this interesting task. I have it filed until my 'to-try' items. And thanks for inspiring me to look up the word synecdoche.

  2. This looks like a great activity. Did you have them do any sort of extension/generalizations? How long did it take to run the lesson as is for the 8th graders?

    1. Hi Dan — Thanks! After all the lessons of yours I have used over the years, it's nice to be able to return the favor. :)

      I used this on Day 2 as a "getting to know you" and "practicing group work norms" activity that was math-centered, so I did not actually plan any extensions or generalizations. It took my 8th graders (different classes) between 30 and 40 minutes to work through. If a group came up with two ways to share very quickly, I tasked them with devising as many ways to share as they could in the remaining time. For a 9th grade Algebra 1 regular or remedial, I would probably have had groups make a poster and present to the class.

      I'm sure there are a ton of other extensions you could create. You could even have them generalize a rule for figuring this out, depending on their previous experience.

      Let me know how it goes!

      - Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)