Math with Antlers Adding and Subtracting Fractions, Mixed Numbers, and Integers Measurement is challenging and engaging at the same time. Helping students record their mixed number measurements is exceptionally beneficial in my classroom, but exploring the addition and subtraction of these mixed numbers through the scoring system is amazing. When the students have completed the measurements and are recording their lengths, they have to record their fractions to the nearest one-eighth of an inch. The students will often record measurements as ¼ of an inch or ½ of an inch. I work with the students to create the equivalent fractions as eighths. Students begin to see the relationship between fractions and learn how one fraction can be equivalent to another. For example, 11 3/4 is equivalent to 11 6/8. Students record all of the required measurements for each antler using the scoring sheet, calculate totals, and subtract differences to compute their final score. This part of the activity becomes an excellent application of adding and subtracting mixed numbers. Students are required to add all the measures for the left antler (Column 1 in Figure 2), add all the measures for the right antler (Column 2 in Figure 2), and add all of the differences between the antler (Column 3 in Figure 2). The final score for the trophy deer antlers is determined by finding the total of Columns 1 and 2 and subtracting the total differences in Column 3. I can take this opportunity to explore the concept of symmetry that is connected to the students' calculations of the differences between the left and right antlers. If the differences were all zero, then the antler rack would have no deductions and therefore be considered perfectly symmetrical, as long as the look and direction of the antlers on each side were the same. Discussing symmetry would be an easy extension to this activity focused on measurement and fraction calculations. Another extension to this activity can be done using any abnormal points found on the Antler (see diagram in Figure 2). Most of the antlers used in my classroom do not have any abnormal points, so I do not use that part of the scoring sheet, but other teachers could if they have some antlers with measurable abnormal points. I require students to do all of these calculations by hand despite the availability of an online calculator for the Boone and Crockett scoring system. Allowing students to use this online form would take away from one purpose of the lesson, that of operations with fractions, but the online form could be used as a way for students to check their work after they have calculated their score. Conclusion I have observed that students find this lesson interesting and important, even for those who do not hunt. It allows all to learn in a unique way-hands on! I believe a vital part of teaching mathematics is to have activities that allow students to actually work with the mathematics they are being taught. Scoring a deer antler puts the learning process in the hands of the student and allows them to apply the concepts and objectives for themselves. The intent of this activity and lesson is not to promote hunting, because antlers can be purchased or even found in the woods after deer shed their antlers annually. Therefore, it is not necessary to harvest a deer to acquire antlers. This activity is intended to sharpen a student's skills of measuring while developing and strengthening their understanding of fractions and integers. Once the measuring portion of the lesson is complete, the antlers can be put aside and the attention turned to operations with fractions. I use this activity as a way to introduce fractions to my sixth graders as we dive into the many concepts fractions present-equivalency of fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, and adding and subtracting fractions and integers. By converting all the fractions to have a common denominator of eight, students learn about the role of the denominator and how adding and subtracting fractions may be much easier. Through this activity students are also able to see at least one way mathematics is used in a real life application close to home. This activity demonstrates how mathematics governs the accuracy of scoring deer antlers. A set of antlers cannot be correctly scored without accurate, physical measurements and calculations using fractions. Many of my students will never measure deer antlers outside of my classroom, but they will measure something that will likely require the use of a measuring tape and knowledge of fractions at some point in their life. Some may even enter a career that utilizes measuring or fractions daily. Providing an activity like this is one way to help students see mathematics in everyday life. This lesson has positively impacted my students' understanding of the mathematical concepts and processes indicated in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that I teach. Additionally, the activity is fun. One day, a young person from my class may return from a hunting trip and impress their family by calculating its Boone and Crockett score. More importantly, students in my class just might develop a changed outlook on mathematics that says, "I can do math," and start to believe that mathematics is useful, important in life, and not that bad at all. "This activity is intended to sharpen a student's skills of measuring while developing and strengthening their understanding of fractions and integers. " www.txmathteachers.org Fall/Winter 2020 | 29http://www.txmathteachers.org

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