It’s the last day of the semester before Christmas Break. This means that my day pretty much consists of waiting impatiently for students to take their semester tests followed by a frenzy of grading to get the tests into the gradebook.
The Math Vocabulary Christmas Ornament Project
We’re on a block schedule for our two days of semester tests, so I had an extra long planning period this morning. I used part of that time to un-decorate my room for Christmas since I figure that will be the last thing I want to do when I come back in January.
I’m a bit sad to see the Christmas decorations go because they weren’t just any ordinary decorations. They were math vocabulary Christmas ornaments created by my Pre-AP Algebra 2 students.
This math vocabulary Christmas ornament project was inspired by Toni Madison, a middle school math teacher and blogger. You can check out her original post about the ornament project (plus lots of other Christmas ideas) here.
I used the rubric she shared on her blog with my students. The only real thing I had to prepare for my students was a list of vocabulary words we had learned this semester for them to choose from.
I didn’t have an extra Christmas tree for students to hang their completed ornaments on, so I improvised by hanging garland around the room.
This ended up working really well, actually, because students were able to easily see EVERYONE’s ornaments.
I only did this with my Pre-AP Algebra 2 classes. My on-level Algebra 2 classes were actually jealous once they saw all the ornaments that my other classes had created. Why didn’t we get to do that?!?
Since I did do this with Pre-AP students, this assignment was completed entirely outside of class. Students provided their own supplies.
If I were to do this with on-level students, I would probably give them time/access to a limited number of supplies in class.
One of my favorite aspects of this project was that students had to write a paragraph explaining the meaning of their vocabulary word and how their ornament reflected this definition. I would definitely NOT do this project without the written aspect.
There were a few ornaments that I was unsure what word they represented UNTIL I read the paragraph. Then, it made total sense.
Student Ornament Creations
System of Equations and Y-Intercept
Reflection and Absolute Value
Negative Interval and Domain
Arithmetic Sequence and Vertex
Y-Intercept and Horizontal Compression
Vertical Stretch and Function
Axis of Symmetry and Positive Interval
Reflection and Y-Intercept
Future Project Changes
Next year, I would make a few changes to this project.
1. I thought I had a brilliant idea of creating a google doc where students could sign up for whatever vocabulary word they wanted to do. This ended up being a disaster. Students were erasing each other’s names from the google doc, and it took way too long for them to stop trying to sabotage each other and choose a word.
I think I might just pass out vocab words next year and let them trade with a friend if they don’t like their word.
2. I definitely want to introduce a brainstorming aspect to this project where they complete an intermediate assignment where they have to write down the definition of their vocabulary word and create a rough draft of ideas for what their ornament might look like.
Some of the ones that didn’t make it into the close-up pictures were a bit lacking on the creativity side, and I could tell they were most likely done at the last minute.
3. A lot of the vocabulary words we use in Algebra 2 overlap with vocabulary words from previous math courses that students have taken. I didn’t do the best job of emphasizing to students that they needed to make their ornament reflect the definition we learned in Algebra 2.
Several students took a much more geometric approach to their vocab ornaments than I would have liked to have seen. I need to emphasize this next year. I think doing the above idea will help take care of this as well.
4. I think I would also start this project SOONER next year. Originally, I had planned on assigning it right after Thanksgiving. But, life got crazy, and the deadline ended up being a little too close to comfort to the deadline to get semester grades in for exemptions.
Plus, the sooner we get the decorations up, the longer we can enjoy a Christmas-y decorated room.
5. The last change I would make is to have students present their ornaments to the class with a quick presentation. I think this would increase student buy-in and end up producing better projects.
More Christmas Activities
- 12-25 Christmas Number Challenge
- Holiday Triples Puzzle
- Snowflake Puzzle
- Winter Mystery Tangram Puzzle
- Christmas Math Activities and Puzzles
- Reindeer Pentominoes Puzzle
- Christmas Mystery Tangram Puzzle
- Pentominoes Christmas Tree Puzzle
- Penguin Pentominoes Puzzle
- Borax Snowflake Christmas Ornaments
- Reindeer Logic Puzzle
- Checkered Ornament Christmas Puzzle