Curriculum Highlight: 6th Grade Penny Pyramid

  • In The Classroom

6th Grade recently wrapped up their first Three Act Task of the year. In Act 1 of “Penny Pyramid,” students watched (and rewatched!) a short video of a large penny pyramid being constructed. Students made initial observations (Noticings) and then began to formulate questions (Wonderings). In Act 2, students used their reasoning skills to make initial estimations of the number of pennies. Students began to realize information they needed to find the actual number of pennies. As information was slowly revealed, students monitored their thinking and adjusted their initial estimates. Eventually, students gathered all of the information they needed and went to work to find the number of pennies. Act 3 was the final reveal: in this case it was a news article about the pyramid of 287,820 pennies! Students also had the opportunity to test out the creator's equation to see for themselves if it worked to find the total number of pennies. 

Although the math involved in this activity was fun and important, the main work happening was students engaging in what we refer to as “Math Process Skills.” Students learn and apply these processes as they work to support effective learning in mathematics. After completing the penny task, the class reflected on which processes they had engaged in throughout the task, and students identified a process skill they want to develop this school year.