Ideas for teaching high school and middle school math. Innovative approaches that address the changing ways that today's student learns material.
 
During November 2010, I went to the Tennessee Independent Schools Bi-Annual conference held at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN. I was impressed with Baylor's picturesque campus, campus dormitories (which I did convince a teacher from Baylor to sneak me into on-way, way larger than my closet of a room at Tech), and their amazing math department who are incredible innovative. My first post about chalking was from one of the teachers from Baylor. I sat through a presentation on how a 7th grade teacher had her Pre-Algebra kiddos create an 3-D animal from paper towel rolls, shoe boxes, and similar material and then find the area and volume of their animal. Her Algebra students where jealous so she had them draw animals on graph paper (using all straight lines) and then find the equations of particular lines. This the part that I borrowed!

I did this project with my 7th graders in Memphis and then my 9th graders in Atlanta. The class subjects are the same so the material was relevant to both. For both classes I asked them to draw an animal on graph paper using only straight lines. I did not tell them what the purpose was. My 7th graders completed this while having a sub one day and my 9th graders completed this for homework the night after a test (100% completion rate!) I also had them go over their final animal in pen. I then collected them and made a photocopy of them. The students got the original back and their copy. I asked them to decorate the copy and use the original to somehow label the lines they defined on a separate sheet of paper. The final version included the original animal, the decorated animal, and then the equation sheet on a poster board with the rubric on the back.

Reflections:
1st: Will do this project again
2nd: Took forever to grade so may consider this a partner project to lessen the grading part
3rd: Will allow more class-time to work on the project
4th: Will use strong student examples from the past in the introduction of this project
5th: May expand theme on animals to something like school spirit
animals_gone_wild_equations_project.docx
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Comments

Charity
06/10/2012 17:05

Consider having students type their equations into a graphing calculator to prove they graphs the picture

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Natalie Turbiville
07/29/2012 19:13

That is defiantly high on my list to do next time. My students did not have access to graphing calculators and I did not look into computer programs that would allow them to that. LOVE that idea!

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April Burns
07/13/2012 18:52

I absolutely love this idea! I was wondering if you had the students make equations for every single line that they drew, or if you had the students pick 5 or 10 lines to find the equation? I am just curious because some animals had more lines than the others. Also, were they able to use an image off of the computer or did it have to be by freehand? I look forward to hearing your response! Thanks for sharing!

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Natalie Turbiville
07/29/2012 19:16

I gave specific lines they had to find the equation to. On this particular assignment they did not have to find all the equations. In my past a math student, I have done two projects where I had to find all the equations in my picture--great reenforcement of piecewise functions! I had my students draw free-hand on a piece of graph picture. They did this with a substitute when I was gone one day and I have clear instructions that they could only use straight lines (that was all we had covered in the class so far.) It was a GREAT sub activity that my students had fun with and it kept them busy!

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April Burns
07/13/2012 18:52

I absolutely love this idea! I was wondering if you had the students make equations for every single line that they drew, or if you had the students pick 5 or 10 lines to find the equation? I am just curious because some animals had more lines than the others. Also, were they able to use an image off of the computer or did it have to be by freehand? I look forward to hearing your response! Thanks for sharing!

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Natalie Turbiville
12/20/2012 19:03

I had my students identify certain lines. I believe they had to write the equations for 3 positive slope lines, 3 negative slope lines, 2 vertical lines, and 2 horizontal lines.

I have my students freehand it. This was a substitute activity. When I was gone one day the assignment was the draw any animal on graph paper using ONLY straight lines. Then I made copies for each student so they had an animal to color and one to identify the lines with.

Have fun!

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12/19/2012 06:12

Have you had the students "reverse engineer" the pictures? In other words, did you give them the equations and have them draw the pictures from that? I would be interested in giving these to my pre-Algebra students to help them get a handle on graphing.

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Natalie Turbiville
12/20/2012 19:05

Great idea! I have done that with ordered pair practice and it worked great--they get so into it. Lines may be a little more difficult unless your students understand of piecewise functions/resisted domains.

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D Levin
12/24/2012 15:58

I have had students do something like this before, it was any picture they wanted, examples were sports team logos, school logo, spirograph style designs, etc. However, I have had trouble explaining that they are graphing line segments and telling me the equation of the whole line. How did you handle this with your 7th graders who don't get the piecewise function aspect? I didn't catch your response about copying from the computer, were they all freehand? Thank you for a great idea and rubric. I can't wait to try some of the ideas you incorporated.

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Natalie Turbiville
12/27/2012 15:00

Thank you for the comment!

My students each had 2 copies of their drawing. I did this to help those who were confused about just having part of a line extend the line to see it fit fully on the graph or you can have students choose two points on the line and find the equation using that method.

As for your second question, all the pictures were done free hand. They had an entire class period (with a sub) and some have used a picture for inspiration but they really enjoyed the creative part of it! Some are a little bit better sketchers than others!

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12/28/2012 08:46

I had the students extend the line segments where necessary until they had at least 3 lattice points. Then, they entered the lattice points into a T-chart (x, y) [some of them learned these as IN-OUT tables] and worked to find the pattern (linear equation) that related all of those points. They then limited the equations using statements like 3 <= x <= 9 (using the proper less-than-or-equal-to symbols, naturally) to show which portion of the line to draw.

Anne Pomichter
02/12/2013 09:55

The duck is not an original drawing. It comes from "Cartesian Cartoons".

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Marcy
07/16/2013 12:34

I love this idea! I like that it involves math, but will allow the creative people in the class show their creativity. Great idea that I would like to try in my math class.

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01/14/2014 12:56

Definitely using this one in my Algebra Support class (like an intervention class). Thank you so much for posting your Word doc!

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Ideas for teaching high school and middle school math. Innovative approaches that address the changing ways that today's student learns material.