By Matthew Piechalak | [email protected] 

Looking to review math concepts in an authentic and fun way, Lower School Math Specialist Jessica Gentry tasked her Grade 5 students with creating their own fantasy football team. 

“I wanted to make a project that would reflect ‘fall normalcy’ and might spark conversations at home–that would extend beyond the classroom,” says Jessica.

Each student put on their general manager cap and was given a set budget to draft a fantasy football team. After picking 22 players, the students logged salary demands, analyzed their data, and ultimately reported out on the state of their team. 

Among the grade-level learning objectives, the students compared numbers, worked on rounding and estimating, practiced place value, practiced adding and subtracting large numbers and finally, practiced their logic, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. 

“I decided [this year] I would do project-based learning as much as possible—encouraging students that there are multiple ways to do and approach math problems,” Jessica says. “The process is more interesting and valuable (to me) than the solution; being able to explain your reasoning is a valuable skill, and math is actually a creative and curious subject.” 

Throughout the five-day project, the students received support and guidance from several volunteers, including Parker Head Football Coach Matt Morrison, coach John Morrison, and NFL superfan Madison Labshere, Grade 5 associate teacher, who all joined the students virtually to provide their assistance.  

“I’ve never done this before,” Jessica says. “In fact, I really don’t know much about the NFL. But this is one way to learn.”  

The project began with a welcome video from former San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who encouraged the students to never underestimate paying a center in football. 

“He’s totally worth it,” Nick says with a smile, adding “have a great year and appreciate your time with your teacher.”