Friday, November 8, 2013

Making Math More Fun Through Design

This week one of our ipad academy teachers, @coachklein4, began his lesson by having his students watch Vihart’s Doodling in Math: Connecting Dots video.  The video is all about connecting dots to make parabolas which turn into amazing images and designs.  It is a very cool way to introduce, review, and play with the concept of parabolas and quadratic equations.  The girl in the video is obviously a teenager and has a wonderful sarcastic view of math class that is relatable to almost any teen.  The room completely fell silent as soon as the earbuds were in and their YouTube apps fired up!  Mr. Klein also had them sitting around the room on the floor so collaboration and problem solving could flow more easily

The follow-up exercise was to use the app Geogebra to create several different parabolas using quadratic equations.  Basically, his students had 45 minutes to doodle and create within this app.  Next, students captured their parabola designs with a screen-shot and brought them into Notability to add color, real life similar images from the web, and notes.  One student recreated the Under Armour Logotm with parabolas, then checked online to see how hers was similar or different to the real one.   After analyzing her design she changed it to a “chromosome”.  (See below)

We loved hearing questions like, “How do I change my equation so my parabola faces the other way?”  Frequently, students answered each others questions.  

Taking this to the next level lead us to posting their designs on their Kidblogs and sharing their blog link on some type of social media, Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, Instagram, etc.  Designs were anywhere from simplistic to intricate.  Students with the more intricate designs needed more time to complete their work, while others with simpler designs were able to move on to tackling other problems.  It was fun to see how allowing the opportunity to create really hooked some kids into using algebraic equations in a practical way.

This lesson takes at least two class periods, but I am confident that the skills they learned and practiced far out-weigh the daily time crunch teachers succumb to when trying to cover every last bit of content.  See below some of the examples of what the kids created!  Great job @coachklein4!  You are paving the way for high student engagement, interest, and achievement!  
Written by Jenny Krzystowczyk

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