The month of April. Report card month. Play month. The month where there are literally only 3 days when I am not at the school, sometimes working 12 out of 24 hours, and now I have to do unconventional lesson plans on top of everything else. Perfect. (Say that with the same inflection as Marty McFly in “Back to the Future III”... Clara? Perfect. We’re going past 60mph, I’ll never make it.)
Honestly, part of my frustration stemmed from me feeling like this is a good idea, and so I wanted to be able to do it right. Furthermore, this idea of physical activity having a positive effect was reinforced twice during the month.
Once was when I was at a teacher directed PD event, when Bruce McLaurin stated that some years ago he’d had his math class taking free throw shots in the gym (to determine where on the court one had the greatest chance of scoring). After that, the students worked quietly for half an hour without being aware of it. The second time was in talking with a colleague, who said that her first period class had seemed very tired, so she had two students lead a “body break” which included jumping jacks. Even the student who hadn’t participated had seemed more energized afterwards.
Ergo, after being at school for 25 straight days, and with only five remaining teaching days in April, I finally bent my mind towards how I could at least attempt this within the recommended time frame. Because I’m a teacher, and I think doing the impossible is in our job description. Please be understanding if the implementation is somewhat lacking.
BEST LAID PLANS
I was giving tests in my 3U and 4U classes last week, so that meant I was trying this with my MCT 4C class. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they’re my smallest group (only 9), and I’ve been having to revamp a lot of that course material already (it’s been 4 years since I taught the course, and there’s a new text). The unit we’re currently in is Polynomial Functions. Specifically, the expectation “recognize and evaluate polynomial functions, describe key features of their graphs, and solve problems using graphs of polynomial functions”.
|Sample graph. Personification not included.|
We were doing a quiz on Monday, last period. I did this beforehand, in the hopes that it would remind the students of what we did last week better than ten minutes of study time with their notes. I would call it a success - when I saw uncertainty in terms of where to go, I could ask for clarification. A couple students were caught by a graph in standard form, choosing odd instead of even. At the end, one student said “I think I get it now. But I would have preferred pointing.”
Moving on, Tuesday/Wednesday we were looking at difference tables, the “a” value, and the points required to define a quadratic versus a quartic, etc. My plan? Construct a line through a point. So there should be lots of variations. (Indeed, one student picked the zero slope.) Then add a second point. Now everyone has the same line. But there could be different parabolas. Now add a third point, and so on. I even worked out equations in advance, in Desmos. Here’s that link, if you want to see.
I was hoping for some discussion, and comparison of different - or not so different - graphs. But the students simply held their sheet up into the air, or shouted out a value for slope, rather than actually incorporating movement. I adapted by having people raise hands if they had “concave up” versus “concave down”, and getting a volunteer to come up to the board to draw before showing my Desmos as a possible matching equation. Repeat for cubics, and so on. So, some of them were out of their seats.
ENDING THE WEEK
Wednesday, I gave them all graphs when they entered. (The same graphs from Monday, retooled on a different sheet that I cut out.) I asked them to try and create an equation. After a minute or two, I handed out equations at their desks, but for someone else’s graph. Most of them (six) got up and moved around to compare of their own volition, without me saying anything. (One absence, and two stayed seated.) This led into a handout on the “a” values, and finding them from the y-intercept using factored form.
I’m not quite sure how to classify that - collecting materials for an activity? Anyway, it’s something I might be able to do again, and seemed more successful than Tuesday. Thursday I went very low key - it was a requiz of Monday’s material (I take the better of the two results). After giving them time to look at solutions, I covered them, and said they could take the new quiz from my desk whenever they thought they were ready, as I circulated for any other questions. I think only one student asked his friend to bring him the quiz.
Friday... was kind of a wash. Five students would be away for a host of reasons (field trip, family trip, religious day...) and I wasn’t sure what I could do with only four present. I decided to teach the “Graph Dance” moves. (Oh, FYI, there’s Graph Dances stretching back into 2011.) But then only two students actually came, one of them not a fan of my musical efforts, the other not keen on dancing.
Well, they both had to use the washroom, and the nearest one was locked (likely due to vandalism), so I guess the trip to the other side of the school counts as a win? Even though part of the idea behind including movement was to “have fewer washroom breaks”. Alas. If I remember to, I’ll try the “Dance” thing again in the coming weeks.
As I said initially, I do think there’s something to this “intentional movement” concept. It’s the main reason I’m blogging - so that I have something I can refer back to later. The preparation time wasn’t much more than a half hour each day (Mon to Wed), but granted it was a small class. The secondary reason for this post is to see if any of you, the readers, have thoughts about this. Or improvements I could implement in the future. So feel free to comment below!
And with that, April is done. As a bonus, I had a head cold for a couple days in there too. I am starting to think that April is indeed a worse month than June, even if it can’t top January for sheer hideousness. Of course, it may not help that my own personal calendar ticks over an additional year at the end of April. My tens digit is now a perfect square! Huzzah, peace out.