Absolute[ly] Value[able]

Was anyone else's week CRAZY last week?  I was directing our 6th Grade Egypt play last week, and then I realized I had a principal observation.  I'm a wierdo and love observations, but I was scrambling for something awesome to show off for math.  My curriculum map told me that Monday was Absolute Value, but all I thought was, "How the heck can I make this fun?"  I did a bit of Googling, Pinteresting, and blog-stalking until I found exactly what I wanted.  Dan Meyer is a serious genius, and I gleaned ideas from his two posts found here and here. (They're insanely awesome)

To kick it off, I had a PPT of 10 popular celebrities.  We went through a few people, each time the kids guessed how old the celebrity was.  We then discussed who the closest guesser was.  The huge emphasis had to be on distance from the right age - not the direction.  The best guesser may have been above or below.  That is critical for introducing absolute value.  It was so fun - my principal stood up and asked the kids to guess her age.  It was hilarious!  My kids were so nervous to guess too high!

I introduced what absolute value was, and then I had four stations set up to practice absolute value.
Cereal Weights - We weighed cereal, and students were given a goal weight.  We also had a margin of error of 2 grams, so if was within two grams of the goal weight, the cereal box was sellable!  This was a great time to discuss that in this case, the goal weight was acting as zero.  They loved it!  (Idea originally from here, but it's adapted a bit!)

Nerf Guns - A favorite in class.  We drew a target on the window in class, and then the kids shot suction-cup Nerf darts!  They measured the distance to the target.  Again, we talked about what is acting as zero.

Estimation Jar - Before class started, I had a little jar of jelly beans and had the kids estimate how many beans were inside.  (We definitely need to work on estimation in my class - they were SOOOOOOOO off!) This station, they calculated the best guesser again.  Again, we talked about what number is acting as zero.

QR Station - over the summer, I found great task cards on TPT by Felicia Watkins.  They can be found here!  I put my iPad over there, and the kids practiced in a more "structured" setting.  I'm not sure if my classroom is ever a totally structured math room in the traditional sense, but we actually accomplish a lot, and my students LOVE math!  I don't think I've heard a groan all year. That, my friends, is a serious accomplishment with 6th graders!