Halloween It’s More Than Just Candy And Costumes

Halloween It’s More Than Just Candy And Costumes

Halloween was my favorite time of year when I was growing up.

I really enjoyed it when I was teaching but for a number of other reasons.

Halloween gave me the chance to teach students about the incredible history and North American roots of Halloween.

More important, Halloween gave me a chance to teach democracy and mathematics authentically.

Every year, our school would have a Jack o Lantern carving contest. Each class needed to submit their Jack o Lantern for judging.

Since I taught Civics, this gave me a great opportunity to teach the voting process.

All my students got together in their groups and collaborated on a Jack o Lantern design.

I collected all these designs and posted them on the board.

Students were then allowed to mingle in the classroom to lobby and persuade other students to vote on their design.

The voting then took place by secret ballot.

The winning design needed 50 per cent plus one vote to win. If no one won on the first ballot, I eliminated the last placed design.

I let students lobby other students again to vote on their design, and then had them vote again.

I did this until a design that got 50 per cent plus one votes won.

Students learned a lot about the voting process. Some of them found it hard to vote against a friend’s design, even if it wasn’t the best. Some of them were hurt and disappointed that their designs didn’t win. They practiced how to argue persuasively (a skill which they were taught earlier) and how democracy can be very emotional.

I really enjoyed teaching this lesson.

I always gave homework to students on Halloween night. Many of them groaned, until I explained the assignment.

I told them that since they were going to check out their candy after they collect it, I wanted them to practice their data management skills by counting and sorting all of it. Then, I wanted them to graph it using one of the graphs that we studied in math class i.e. bar, pie chart.

The next day, we would discuss the different categories that students used, the amount of candy they received, the most and least they received in each category, most favorite and least favorite candy. We then combined all the results into one graph. I also pulled out past class graphs and we compared and analyzed results.

It’s an authentic math lesson at its best.

Halloween is a great time to tie in your curriculum with students’ interests and have some fun yourself.

Until next time,

Talk to each other, support each other, take care of each other.


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