Monthly Archives: September 2008

Get Ready to Dance Kids!

This is a great idea!


People and Paper Dramas

A people and paper drama is a simple activity where a small group of students use paper as their only prop to act out a math concept. Why paper? It’s a readily available (at least most of the time) cheap supply. Why people? Readily available cheap labor (students).

Here are some ideas for this:

(1) The Human Equation. Create a human model of an equation like 2x+1=x+4 by having students either hold a piece of paper with an “x” on it or a “1.” So that would be two “x’s” and one “1” on the left and one “x” and four “1’s” on the right. Then solve the equation by eliminating students from it emphasizing that you are trying to get one “x” by itself and that “whatever I do to one side, I must do to the other!”

(2) A function machine. I printed out a picture of some gears and wrote machine on it, then printed out some sheets with a number on each side. Two students held up the machine and several students walked through, I instructed the walking students to flip their numbers over to the back as they walked through. Then the spectators could create a function map diagram and guess at the function rule. I was also able to demonstrate how it was possible to have two domain numbers that map to the same range number but could not have two range numbers for one domain number.

Any other ideas?

Making Great Powerpoints

I’ve been using powerpoint now that I have my computer hooked up to my classroom television and have a whole 85 minute block to fill. It has been working amazingly, way more engaging to the students than a whiteboard lecture. I don’t know why but here are some guesses:

(1) I’m teaching the screen generation. Like me these students have computers, watch tv, play video games, go to movies, and watch video clips on their ipods and cell phones. Do to the influence of tv and the Internet especially, a screen represents a stronger authority than a teacher.

(2) The screen separates me from the content so my students and I can feel like we are working together, discovering together, figuring out problems together, then together checking our work by revealing the next transition on the “almighty powerpoint.”

Here is what I’ve discovered about making great powerpoints:

(1) Keep the text short. If you fill the screen with text your students will copy it (all of it) and they wil not remember what they have copied nor will they have heard what you said while they were copying it. In fact, they might just say “Mr. Follett, can you just shut up so we can do this!”

(2) Keep their brains active. Your presentation must be full of great questions to answer, ideas to reorganize, and interesting example problems to try. I’ve been using the powerpoint phase of the lesson as the guided practice phase.

(3) I’m changing the slide in 5…4…3…2…1