Pascal Percents .

Date Nov. 5, 2005
Class Pre-Algebra     8th Grade
Teacher Alicia Klaassen

What I Did: The activity was used as a fun, introductory activity to a chapter on prime numbers, percents, and factors.  I gave the students a short review assignment and had them work some easy problems to get their minds moving, then I passed out this activity.  I had gotten this activity from my textbook’s website and it seemed like an interesting individual activity.  I asked the students to work on it alone, read the instructions and complete it as the directions instructed.  I told the students that there were to complete steps 1, 2, & 3 and that step 4 was extra credit (my 8th grade loves the word “extra credit”). 
What the Students Did:  Most of the students read the activity after receiving it and then followed instructions.  Some students looked at it and asked “What are we supposed to do?” A lot of the students pulled out their calculators and tried to figure out some pattern in the numbers.  Most figured out the pattern.  The students who didn’t read the instructions and were not willing to try to find a pattern just sat and looked at the paper.  I had a lot of questions from the students the next day.   About ¼ of the students picked up on the idea that the first pyramid was related to the percent pyramid.  I was impressed with that.  Most of the students used sort of a guess-and-check method to solve the problem.     
What I would Change:  First, I would change the layout of the worksheet.  My students needed the instructions first, then the Pyramid.  I would make the instructions clearer and more detailed.  I think that I would also tell students that there was a relationship between the two pyramids.  Second, I think that they would have worked better, had we started brainstorming ideas in a large group (as a class), or if they had worked in pairs.  I think that I would also have some crayons or markers available for them to re write each row in a separate color.  Some of my students had a hard time because they were not neat and did not keep their numbers in a correct row.  Maybe I would even work the whole assignment as a large group activity. 

Activity Extension:  I also decided to extend the activity and we will discuss Pascal and his work also.  Maybe ask the students to come up with their own pyramid that has some sort of pattern.  (We will be working with a prime number pyramid later in this chapter and I hope that it looks familiar to them by then. )