Complex Math and the Krispy Kreme Doughnut: Building Differentiated Math Projects

Ian Byrd Shares Tools for Creating Math Projects that will Intrigue and Motivate Students

Differentiated MathIf you’re like me, this post had you hooked with three little words:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

I try my best to stick to a healthy diet, but every now and then I just need a good dose of gooey, sugary goodness.

Mmmmm, doughnuts!

Hopefully I’ve got your attention, because now I’m going to bring up a subject that puts me in a comatose state faster than eating a dozen donuts in a single sitting (stop judging me)!

That’s right, this post is really about math! I’m more of a literature gal, so I don’t get nearly as excited about math as I do a great book.

So what do doughnuts have to do with math?

Everything, says former G/T student and now G/T expert Ian Byrd in this 1-hour course, “Building Differentiated Math Projects.

Mr. Byrd grew up as a gifted student in Garden Grove, California and then returned there as a teacher in a G/T classroom. He has a degree in Computer Science, but gifted education is his passion. Today, he’s become a resource for other teachers through his blog, and as an emerging speaker and trainer across the United States.

What does a doughnut have to do with differentiated math?

You might have seen images pop up recently in your social media feed comparing the amount of sugar in “healthy” foods to Krispy Kreme donuts.

Differentiated Math

Your reaction was probably either revulsion or a little stomach rumbling (maybe a little of both). What Mr. Byrd sees in these images are the seeds of differentiated math projects ready to bloom.

After all, what student’s ears wouldn’t perk up at the mention of doughnuts, right?

Here’s what Mr. Byrd has to say:

There’s a lot that you could do with this: it could be a ratio project, or you could ask, “can you express something else as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.” It’s getting interesting now, there’s conflict built in when you combine doughnuts and math. It’s an intriguing place to start a math project!

Becoming a Math Hunter

Differentiated MathThe best math projects don’t come out of a book; you’ve got to hunt for them. Once you start looking, the seeds of great math projects are all around you every day. When you’ve got your math hunter lenses on, you’ll find real life math problems like the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts everywhere.

Here are a few more real-world math project seeds that Mr. Byrd explores in this course:

  • Nerf gun shot distributions
  • World records of top athletes
  • Caffeine consumption charts and graphs
  • The ages of the Founding Fathers in 1776 (mean, median, mode)Differentiated Math
  • Double your pennies project (How many times do you have to double to get to 1 million pennies?)

Mr. Byrd offers practical strategies for finding interesting data, and then demonstrates how to grow that data into projects that are both intriguing and motivating for gifted students.

What do you do once you catch your prey?

Differentiated MathLearning to hunt for the seeds of great math projects is just the beginning. Next, Mr. Byrd offers four key ideas for building those seeds into meaningful projects by:

  • Finding relevant, authentic data
  • Posing conflict within the data
  • Bringing an alternate perspective to the issue
  • Designing an end-product that will connect with students

Mr. Byrd offers practical examples from his own classroom, demonstrating how everyday data can be turned into a math problem that will have your students hooked… Hopefully hooked on math and not on Krispy Kreme Doughnuts!

Are you ready to breathe life back into the differentiated math projects you’re offering your students? “Building Differentiated Math Projects” will have you on your way in no time.

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Images courtesy of Flickr via Mohamed El-Kady, paurian, slgckgc, CERDEC