Day 5: The One Where We Learn Ken Ken and Imagine the 10th Figure

First week Friday! Woooo! I am planning to sleep and not grade this weekend, which will be the opposite of all the rest of my weekends until June.

Photo #1: Ken Ken

A while ago, my curriculum partner found a Japanese math puzzle game called Ken Ken. It only has 3 rules, so it’s a simple, repeatable structure. It builds on basic math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing). It is challenging enough that some of my students with higher levels of prior math get stumped, but no one ever really gives up. I can specifically name at least 2 times when classroom management disasters were imminent and I got the class to calm down by playing Ken Ken.

I taught it for the first time last year, which was nerve-racking since I had just learned how to play the day before. It felt easier to teach this year, after a year of practice (which I told students who were struggling this year). At least one student, who I had last year, said they finally understood how to play, while another student (also from last year) left their thoughts on my whiteboard after class in the photo above (sigh).

Photo #2: More Patterns

We’re still looking at patterns and how they grow. This lesson, which was supposed to end with presentations, is actually flowing over until Monday. Classes struggled with drawing the 100th figure in a sequence of patterns, so we asked students to instead find the 10th figure. For students who could find the 10th figure, we then asked them to find the 100th figure. We’re moving towards the idea of representing big blocks with numbers instead of drawing every individual block (upper right photo). Some students still insist on trying to draw 100 squares, then look at me bewildered, as if to say, “Mister, how in the world do you expect me to draw 100 tiny squares?”

Photo #3: The Big Honkin’ Stack of Homework

All of next week’s homework (4 pages of math and one reflective paragraph per class). To be handed out Monday, due back Friday. Read it and weep. Because that’s what I’ll be doing on Friday. #ImNotSorry

Questions for the Floor

1. Have you played Ken Ken? Which of the 3 rules is the hardest for you?

2. Any guesses as to homework completion rates for the first week?

3. Are you smarter than a 9th or 10th grader? Go to this pattern from Visual Patterns, the site where we get our patterns (it’s by an amazing math teacher named Fawn Nguyen). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd figure are shown. Can you draw the 4th pattern? The 5th pattern? The 0th pattern? The 100th pattern?