Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Literary Take on Pi Day

When I first started teaching, I celebrated Pi Day. The mathematical definition of Pi is generally known as 3.14, and March 14th is 3/14. I taught third grade for my first two years as a teacher, and I taught math. Therefore, our March 14th celebration revolved around circles and their circumference! I'd ask the students to bring in pies, and we'd measure their diameter, find the radius, and compute the circumference and area of the pie. Then, of course, we'd eat the pies! Too much fun!

For the last three years, I have not been a math teacher. I moved to 5th grade and became a reading/social studies teacher. I haven't really done Pi Day since teaching 5th grade because putting Pi into a literary context seemed a little bit of a stretch. But I have missed doing it because I'm a sucker for puns, and any holiday that revolves around one just sets my heart aflutter. (I do love saying, "Pi, Pie? Get it?!")

Well, I had a revelation a week or so ago. I was looking over some resources I'd purchased, and found these great author's purpose task cards and posters (purchase the cards here and the posters here; then see my blog post about how much I love these activities here).

As I was looking over these resources to help the kids review and get ready for the big (pardon my French) TEST, I noticed that both of them said PIE - 3 main author purposes are to Persuade, Inform, or Entertain. Then it hit me - I could do a literary version of Pi Day, but make it Author's Purpose PIE Day! Eureka!

So here's how this went down:

  • I asked parents to send in pies. I got 14 of them. Holy canoli. That's a lot of pie.
  • Students took notes from the posters about author's purpose and discussed the purposes in small groups. (What does it mean in your own words? What are some examples you've read?)
  • I set out all 24 task cards and the kids played a version of SCOOT (read about it on the blog post I linked to above)
  • I planned an activity for the students to complete at my small group table (totally unrelated - it was text-mapping; I REALLY hope I will find time to post about that tomorrow)
  • I let the students play "Roll-A-Pie"
I loved the Roll-A-Pie. This was my version of an activity in the resource with the posters I linked to above. I just used materials I had in the room to play instead of printing out the activity and having students cut and make their own. 

Using dice and small plastic containers with lids I found at the Dollar Tree, I put out some of the little containers, each with one die in it. I then wrote a little set of directions (wish I'd taken a photo) for the kids to use to play. Here's how it worked:

I wrote out 15 different objects on the poster (all of which started with P, just to practice alliteration which we've been working on - I try to combine as many things as possible to kill multiple birds with one stone). The objects were things like pizza, picnics, pencils, ponies, pink, pickles, popcorn, the principal, etc. The students were to choose a topic, then roll the die. If you have a die (or dice) in the container with the lid, they just shake the container, then turn it upside down (so they can see through the clear bottom), and the number they see is what they've rolled. This keeps the die (dice) from rolling all over the classroom and driving you nuts.

If the student rolled a 1 or 2, they had to write a persuasive paragraph about the topic he chose. So, if I chose principal, and I rolled a 2, I had to write a persuasive paragraph to or about the principal. If a student rolled a 3 or a 4, he had to write an informational paragraph about the topic. If a student rolled a 5 or 6, he had to write an entertaining paragraph about the topic. The students could play this as many times as they liked. They all had to do it at least once.

The students played the author's purpose "scoot" game around the table (3 minutes at each card; one responsible student had the timer). We had 5 students at time at my little round table playing Roll-A-Pie. I had six students at the table working on their text-mapping project. Plus, while they were working and having fun, they got to eat pie! See some more of my pictures below. We had such a blast! I hope you can use some of these ideas to do a literary version of Pi Day next year! (You really could do it any ol' day! We just did it to coincide with Pi day for math.)

Dear student, please don't choke on your pie!

All gone!

Some cool cats - doing text mapping!

More coolness and more text mapping

Roll-A-Pie - this kiddo shakes it wicked fast!

More Roll-A-Pie