Penny Harvest Math

Jose VilsonEducation

PennyAh, I’m taking a breather from politics. Not that I don’t like duking it out with different individuals on my beliefs, but because I like going over a variety of topics that find I find interesting. It was good to see how many of you responded to the last 2 posts (“A Synopsis on the Road Less Wanted” and “AfterNotes from the AfroLatino Immigration Discussion“). Just to add a little bit to those discussions, check the recent study about the positive correlation between health and class size. The smaller the class size, the healthier the kids are. Teachers especially see this since it actually improves their own health when a few kids are absent. Of course, this also means that those who can afford to have smaller class sizes are usually the healthier children. And those with the best health care tend to be the healthiest. This isn’t just me talking out my rear; it’s real research.

In any case, a little note about an extracurricular activity I’ve taken on. I’m now the Penny Harvest Coach for my school, and so far, it’s been a multilayered effort. For those of you unaware of what a Penny Harvest event looks like, it just means that for a month, a school collects pennies and tries to raise money for charity. If you get over a $1000, you get to give it to the charity of your choice. Pretty cool. My tactic for collecting the money is by weight because it’s much easier to do that than actually count all the money collected. Capiche?

After all the red tape and the unprompted suggestions from several colleagues and the lack of reading memos, I had even more work to do to personally discuss and inspire the teachers and kids to participate in this activity. Everything from “We’re not just trying to beat the school, but the city” to “Now, what weighs more, pennies or quarters?” That’s what got me thinking: what if I could make a series of portfolio projects that will segue this community service with their education? Ca-ching!  I hear pennies.

My first portfolio project uses concepts of powers of ten and finding the relationship between the decimal place and power of ten. It’s useful for all grades. I think I used something like this:

Mr. Vilson recently asked his homeroom to contribute to the Penny Harvest this year. On October 9th, his class contributed only $1.26 in pennies. Every week since then, the amount of the money increased tenfold. Figure out how much money his homeroom will have by Thanksgiving (6 weeks).

Then they get this fancy chart they can use to calculate their figures, and then they have to figure out what the relationships are in the value. This works for 7th and 8th grade too, when it comes to powers of ten, and scientific notation. The 6th graders, I’m sure, will enjoy the activity. I’ve also used Penny Harvest as a means of understanding what a million looks like. Now that most of my kids have some understanding of what a million looks like, they can conceptualize what all those pennies we collect will look like too.

Enough of my geekiness. More hardcore on Thursday.

jose, who just needs a little breather …