Today we finished up the first little “Episode” of my class, the goal of which was to be able to identify relationships and functions as well as expose them to the terms ‘linear’ and ‘quadratic’ to describe their work with visual patterns. We had finished 8 different kinds of patterns by the time this class rolled around, including this one from youcubed. Since are now experts, I asked them to create their own patterns of blocks and put them on the board using Post-It notes, sort of a play on VNPS. Later on they were able to classify the patterns that they made as either Linear or Quadratic once they learned that that is a word used in math. The majority of the patterns they created were linear, which left me wondering if I should have exposed them to more non-linear patterns or if I just have a linear bunch of students.
Following this activity the students worked on a little reflection to wrap up this first Episode. I had this idea of breaking my class into little Episodes over winter break while my wife and I shamelessly barreled our way through Agents of Shield and The Blacklist on Netflix. Surely, some of the structures that the writers use to draw viewers into their stories could be adopted by teachers as they plan their units. My plan is to have these clear distinct units at the end of which is a little reflection, it’s roughly the “big idea” from the last 4 classes. Since the “big ideas” are the characters in my 2nd period show, the end of the Episode should highlight a new piece of information about one of the “big ideas.” The reflection on these things will help students keep track of all the important connections and representations. As we start future classes I plan to use the students reflections as part of a little introduction. This introduction could be mirror the “In the last episode…” or “Previously on Agents of Shield” announcements they have on TV which are followed by replays of key scenes from the series. So on the days where the concepts from this Episode stand to make particularly strong connections the ideas from the next Episode, I will try to adopt that by bringing back some of the more interesting reflections that student wrote.
What is the next Episode going to be about? Understanding! Specifically, getting to different forms of linear and quadratic equations with lots of understanding. We can look at difference tables, and break apart the meaning of the y-intercept and other variables in the equations, as well as looking at how these things reflect in the graph. I will work in some instructional activities and some problem strings in addition to counting circles as a way to help kids build some number sense. Since today’s post-it notes were a success, it seems like I will have to use more manipulatives, and try some Vertical Non Permanent Surface Problem Solving. If you have any ideas of things I should try, or other ways to make my class as addictive as a Netflix bing, let me know in the comments!