Tuesday, May 28, 2019

When Math Gets Artsy

Planning engaging lessons and activities in the month of May has always felt like somewhat of a lost cause. May is a battle. Every day in May I gear up for a fight against apathy, burn out, frustration, and "IDC" syndrome from my students. They don't care about anything, except the countdown to summer. To make matters worse, the month of May is usually filled with a final Chapter test, followed by a mind numbing semester review week where I mostly serve as a glorified babysitter, and then the final exams. This year I decided to mix it up and do a final Chapter project instead of a Chapter test. We had just finished our unit of parent functions and the students should now be able to graph linear, quadratic and absolute value functions as well as circles. Rather than test them on these topics, I challenged them to create "something" that demonstrated they could graph all of the parent functions they knew up to this point in a creative way using the Desmos online graphing calculator. Shout out to Desmos, my teaching BFF.

The requirements were simple. Graph a word, phrase, or picture that included at least one of each type of function we had been working with. That was it. The grading was simple, you either did or you didn't meet the requirements. If you didn't, I didn't grade it and gave you feedback on what was needed to meet the requirements. When you met the requirements you were good to go. I think a lot of the reason why these projects turned out so fantastic is that the grading wasn't really the point. As long as you graphed the functions, you got 100%. With out a complicated grading rubric, the creativity became the focal point. 

I am not artistic. It is actually painful for me to try to be creative, but this project even got me feeling sparks on the right side of my brain and I graphed this cute little bumble bee.

Students loved this project. And everyone who turned one in did a phenomenal job. They had 2 full class periods to work on the laptops and then emailed me the link to their graph. Check out some of my favorites below!

A lot of students also chose to graph their name, which was fun to see all the ways they worked to fit each function in. The letter "s" might be one of the most challenging letters, and students found incredibly creative ways to get the "s" to work. 

We had also worked with graphing quadratic inequalities a little bit, and I was REALLY impressed with students who wanted to shade parts of their graph and how desperate they were to figure out how to incorporate inequalities in their graph to be able to do so. So many connections being made!

This ended up being one of the highlights of the year and students (even with all their apathy and summer laziness) expressed how much fun they had creating their projects. Looking forward to May next year when we will do this again. Looking forward to May... I can't believe I said that!