Big Cheques

How many times bigger is the printed cheque vs. the original?

Proportional Reasoning – Real World Ratio Problems

Big Cheques 3 Act Math Task - Proportional Reasoning and Ratios

I’m a big advocate for the grade 9 applied TIPS4RM math resource. When a traditional note followed by questions assigned from a textbook is replaced by this resource, I have only experienced significant improvements to student engagement and achievement in my grade 9 applied courses. Even though TIPS4RM offers a helping of lessons tied closely to the Ontario Grade 9 Applied Curriculum, some of the tasks lack the hook to draw students in.

I’ve noticed this especially in the Proportional Reasoning unit. While the lessons suggest multiple strategies for introducing and solving proportions, I find most of the questions pretty bland and boring. Early in the unit, I created an animation to make proportions visual and I’ve used a few 3 act math tasks including Sugar Packets and Super Bear to liven things up with success. However, as we approach the end of the unit, my focus is shifting to the connection between proportions, percentages and then on to direct variation linear relations.

My thought was to do something similar to Dan Meyer’s Incredible Shrinking Dollar 3 Act Math Task, but focus on lowering the bar by enlarging/shrinking something once rather than repeatedly.

What I came up with was 5 tasks, split into 3 acts each. Yes, that means about 15 acts. It seemed to work well this past Wednesday when a group of GECDSB Administrators came in to observe during the System Principal Meeting. Here it is…

Task 1, Act 1 – Introducing the Problem

Show your students this video:

In Act 1 of this 3 act math task, I walk into the photocopy room, take a cheque out of my wallet and place it on the photocopier. I then begin to press the button to enlarge the photocopy repeatedly.

What’s the question that comes to mind?

I have been using a public Google Doc for my students to brainstorm some questions that might come to mind in real-time, during class. Here’s the Google Doc we used this week to brainstorm questions:

The question we will focus on for this problem is:

How many times bigger is the printed cheque vs. the original?

Task 1, Act 2: Reveal Some Information

Show your students this photo:

Big Cheques - Task 1, Act 2 - Reveal Information

Task 1, Act 3: Show the Answer


Task 2, Act 1 – Introducing the Problem

Show your students this video:

Task 2, Act 2: Reveal Some Information

Show your students this photo:

Big Cheques - Task 2, Act 2 - Dimensions of the Cheque

Task 2, Act 3: Show the Answer


Task 3, Act 1 – Introducing the Problem

Show your students this video:

Task 3, Act 2: Reveal Some Information

Show your students this photo:

Big Cheques - Task 3, Act 2 - Dimensions of the Original and Big Cheque

Task 3, Act 3: Show the Answer

[Coming Soon]


Task 4, Act 1 – Introducing the Problem

Show your students this video:

Task 4, Act 2: Reveal Some Information

Show your students this photo:

Big Cheques - Task 4, Act 2 - Dimensions of Original and Lottery-Sized Cheque

Task 4, Act 3: Show the Answer

[Coming Soon]


Task 5, Act 1 – Introducing the Problem

Show your students this video:

Task 5, Act 2: Reveal Some Information

Show your students this photo:

Big Cheques - Task 5, Act 2 - Dimensions of Original Cheque and Reduced Size Cheque

Task 5, Act 3: Show the Answer

[Coming Soon]


As usual, please share your feedback on how I can improve this task. Did you try it with your students? Let me know how it went!

Interested in the task this was adapted from? See Dan Meyer’s task below:

Incredible Shrinking Dollar [3 Act Math Task]

What will the dollar bill look like after getting reduced that many times?


Incredible Shrinking Dollar 3 Act Math Task
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Download The Task and Resources

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About Kyle Pearce

I’m Kyle Pearce and I am a former high school math teacher. I’m now the K-12 Mathematics Consultant with the Greater Essex County District School Board, where I uncover creative ways to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in mathematics. Read more.


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