For week two of our blogging challenge, we were asked to write about one of our favorite lessons, games, resources, tools or strategies. It was tough to pick one. I have so many excellent resources and tools, that as I reflected on what to write about, it made me once again realize what a great time is it to be a math teacher and just how lucky I am. What a hard but awesome job, and what a generous and sharing community we have.
I really like keeping students in suspense. If I can set up a situation where students want to know what’s coming next, that often translates into engagement and the desire to learn. When you watch your favorite TV show, and it ends on a cliff-hanger, you make predictions and you think about it in between episodes. You are connected to and invested in the story, and you can’t wait to see what happens next. I want my classes to have at least some of this kind of anticipation.
I also like to create some public presence for math in my school, and I try to create a bit of suspense around this as well. Typically, a few days before we publish our work on the math wall, I will put up a provocative question, or something to generate interest. This week I just put up a funny title with a big question mark, and listened for the buzz..
As a culminating activity of learning about graphing linear equations, I asked Algebra 1 students to create “math faces” through drawing with graphs. They used Desmos (…it was very tempting to write a series of “my favorite Desmos” posts – everything those guys do makes my classroom better!) to create their works of mathematical art, to practice transforming linear equations, and to solidify their understanding of domain and range. I ask students to make sketches ahead of time to ensure that they are purposeful in manipulating their equations. This is an activity
conceived of by the incomparable Fawn Nguyen, and one that I use every year. I have written about it before as well. This kind of task gives all students an easy entry point, but allows for real complexity for those who are ready. This low entry, high ceiling aspect of drawing with graphs makes it a rich and motivating activity that we can return to with students again and again. Although the Des-Man activity is not currently available through the teacher dashboard at Desmos, I have heard that it is getting a make-over and that they will be bringing it back again. Each time, I am amazed at how motivating this activity is for students.
After a couple of days, we published our process and our results on this year’s “Sweet Wall of Math!”
How do you create suspense and anticipation in your classroom?