Director of Teaching & Learning Miles Azzeh's Academic Spotlight: Libby Stevenson's "Pi" Day
Our Lansing USD 469 teachers are incredible at engaging our students in fantastic learning opportunities to reach their full potential every day in our district. To highlight and bring recognition to this great work, Director of Teaching and Learning Miles Azzeh will be regularly shining a spotlight on a stand-out teacher through "academic spotlights."
This week's "Academic Spotlight" goes to 3rd-grade teacher Libby Stevenson and her engaging (and delicious) way of approaching a math concept that even makes most adults shudder: fractions.
"'Fractions can be intimidating, but everyone loves pizza and pie!' That was my thought when I originally began celebrating Pi Day a few years ago." Libby said.
Pi Day is traditionally celebrated on March 14th (3.14). In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw began the annual Pi Day celebration to bring more awareness, accessibility, and fun into learning about math in schools. Libby used a vital skill that great teachers possess: agility when planning a lesson.
"Due to Spring Break, our class chose to celebrate Pi Day early. Pi is a big concept for third graders, so we used Pi Day as an opportunity to share a feast of pizza and pie!" Libby said.
Myself, Superintendent Dan Wessel, and Director of Communications and Marketing Sharon Burns were all on hand to witness and help serve pizza and pie to the students. It was terrific watching Libby guide the class and check for understanding, as well as hearing all their correct answers and excitement:
"I love that my teacher lets us learn fractions with pizza and let us invite people in the school." student Aunalee Mitchell said.
"My favorite thing about Pi Day was calculating the pie and pizza." student Eva Folgert said.
Here is an overall summary of the activity:
During this process, students:
- Choose pizza and pie flavors using surveys and tally tables.
- Use the results of the surveys to narrow down flavor choices.
- Conduct a second survey to take everyone's order and calculate the amount of pizza and pie needed to meet everyone's needs.
- Discuss what other members of our district and building staff to invite (who impacts our class other than just our teacher).
- Discuss how much extra pizza and pie we will have.
- Calculate the cost of the pizza and determine the price each slice will cost.
- Briefly discuss mathematical pi in a 3rd-grade-appropriate way.
- Discuss how the circumference of a pie impacts the size of each slice.
This activity/event is a perfect example of how important experiential learning is to students retaining knowledge. I spoke to nearly all of the students about their learning, and it was apparent that this is something they will remember for years to come:
"I learned how you can eat fractions, and pie and pizza are yummy foods!" student Alayna Caddell said.
"My favorite part of Pi Day was the chocolate pie, and it was delicious!" student Emma Hughes said.
Great job, Mrs. Stevenson, making Pi day such a hit with your students!! I'm honored to have been invited to see this great activity, and we're honored in Lansing to have you as one of our own!