Monday, April 6, 2015

What Happens In the Faculty Lounge (Doesn't Necessarily) Stay In the Faculty Lounge

Some of the most interesting math action in my school takes place, not in a classroom, but in here:

The Faculty Lounge

     Recently, I blogged about how seeing this on one of the tables...

...inspired a 3-Act problem solving task.

And earlier this year I described how seeing this Thanksgiving leftover...

...inspired some interesting noticings and wonderings.  Here are a few more examples of what I think of as "Faculty Lounge Math":

The Soda Machine

     Did you notice the soda machine in the back right corner?  One afternoon a few months ago I caught the delivery guy in the process of refilling the machine.  I snapped this picture:

     Thinking I might use it as the basis for another 3-Act, I found out that the machine holds 288 bottles, which is 12 cases at 24 bottles per case.  One of our grade 5 teachers has already used it as a noticing and wondering prompt.


     Here's something a teacher left on the table after Valentine's Day.  I used this as an estimation180 task:

How many candies inside?  Give me a too low, a too high, and a just right.  On an open number line, of course!

I opened the box and took this picture for the reveal.  It also suggests fractions, arrays, multiplication, and subitizing.  
Later that afternoon I found that someone had been at the candy!

Speaking of subitizing and candy, one morning in early November I found this bag of left over Halloween treats...

...and brought it back to my room.  I arranged them in different configurations...

...and downloaded the pictures onto our school's shared drive for the primary grade teachers to use as subitizing prompts.  OK, I confess.  I ate the candy.


Several weeks ago I found myself in Aimee's first grade classroom, working with a group of kids trying to make 2-dimensional shapes using play-doh and what looked like over-sized collar stays. Things were not really working out.
     "I wanted to use coffee stirrers," she explained, "But I left them at home."
     "Just a sec!"  I told her.  A quick trip to the Faculty Lounge...

    ...and the kids were good to go!


Some kind soul brought these in one morning:

I thought this would make another nice subitizing prompt, or maybe start an array chat.

But food doesn't last long in the Faculty Lounge, and as the day progressed I took this series of pictures, hoping it might inspire the kids to write and solve some number stories:

     So there you have it.  The Faculty Lounge is many things: a sanctuary, a meeting place, a destination where a hungry teacher can find some much needed sustenance.  And it's one of my go-to spots for mathematical inspiration.  Now you know what's in my Faculty Lounge.  What's in yours?


  1. I really like the idea of integrating different colors with the candies and donuts. The spatial recognition of dots is great how they're arranged but the different colors only make the numbers more accessible to students.
    I think showing students this entire post would be a great way to model how you mathematize the world.
    Great job as always my friend!

    1. Thanks Graham. Those were only 2 of the 8 photos I took of different candy arrangements and combinations. We've been encouraging the first grade teachers to integrate subitizing activities into their routine, and I am amazed by the creativity the kids display putting different number combinations together. They often see things we don't.

  2. I'll be gazing differently at the biscuits in the staff room at break time. (Colleagues will wonder what's come over me - normally it's a swift predatory look!)

  3. Just take a picture before you eat anything! You never know when it might come in handy.