A New Bumper Sticker – My child is in the same classroom as your honour student

“Your rockstars aren’t the ones who put forward the best ideas. They put forward the safest ideas.”

Peter Liljedahl said this while discussing ‘A’ students and his numeracy tasks at last week’s pro-d presentation. I thought this was a great argument against ability grouping, in a bumper sticker kind of way. If we teachers were able to create problems and tasks with low floors and high ceilings, would that spell the end of honours classes? Probably not. Parents like the stickers. And they should.

I’m no rockstar, but I was an honour student. I know, I know, what happened? As either a student teacher or a new teacher, I attended a workshop (Kanwal Neel maybe?) and we were given the challenge of designing the largest popcorn box (or open rectangular prism) from a single sheet of paper. My partner (a secondary science teacher) and I (a secondary math teacher) were confident we had the winning design. We had a function, V(x) = x(8.5 – 2x)(11 – 2x). We had the quadratic equation. We had calculus! We had everything but the winning design. Beaten by a pair of primary teachers who had tape and the ability to ‘think outside the box’. (Sorry.)

Update: Kanwal sent me his largest box problem. The context has been changed to create the largest bentwood box.