Student Creativity in Math

Today, using ClassFlow my class did an interactive math lesson/diagnostic on combining like terms. We started by classifying terms so that I could get an idea how students thought about numbers with integer coefficients and exponents.

Students came up with some super awesome and TOTALLY unexpected ways of classifying these terms. One student put the terms on a number line, but also alphabetically. It was fascinating. One that I will definitely be coming back to for more discussion. Some students put the numbers in order based on absolute value of the coefficient and then some students grouped them based on variable (like terms).

I’ll be honest, my students were so creative, it totally caught me off guard a few times. I’m not sure I consolidated all their ideas very effectively. It opened up a whole new way to start future conversations. From todays student responses we could have consolidated and moved our thinking along in the concepts of ordering integers, patterning and sequences or combining like terms. I forced the conversation to combining like terms. This is what we consolidated today, but I can’t wait to use their responses from today to take us into those other conversations at a later date.

At the end of the lesson today students created an Educreation video using their laptops or iPads and made their own “combining like terms” question in partners and then solved it while recording their steps. This provided an entry point for all students. Students still grappling with the concept created a question such as 1x + 1x = 2x. Students moving along in their thinking created a question such as 2x – 4y + 3x +7 = 5x – 4y + 7 . Within Educreations we can watch each others questions and how they solved them.

Student Creativity in Math

Today in class we took cue from Dan Meyers three-act math lessons. Students watched the first part of a video clip of two people racing. Thy needed to pull the math out and determine who was going to win.

When I sent them to work, each group had a tablet or computer that I provided with the video on it and then all the smart phones they were packing and could manage.

Most groups used timer apps on their phones and gathered data points to plot a distance-time graph for each runner. A couple groups played around with the runners speed and the distance and determined the time it would take each runner.

Then, one group really surprised me. They pulled out a MacBook, downloaded the video, threw it into video editing software and got data points from the distance each runner went per frame. It was great. They broke the video down into frames and somewhere in there I lost understanding of what they were doing (technologically). I didn’t need to know. It generated lots of great math talk and conversation in class within their group, between groups as we did a “gallery walk” type thing and lastly as a whole-class during the consolidation.

Luckily for me, most groups did graph data points, enabling us to have the conversation I was aiming for on solving linear systems graphically. I was also given some great insight into my students minds when I realized how upset/frustrated some were that we were using a linear model. They pointed out that as a runner starts they are not going full speed yet and that it takes a while. This opened up a whole-new conversation that I hadn’t intended on having (yet clearly should have predicted) about comparing linear and non-linear functions.

Overall, I was very impressed with their creativity, willingness to take risk in solving problems, their math talk or communication and general engagement. We are definitely ready to look at algebraic ways to solve these linear systems now.

This is a very large class of very noisy, bouncy, bubbly grade 10’s. I do think we are well-suited for each other. 🙂 A fun group.