Sunday, January 20, 2019

Barbie Bungee for Scatter Plots

Barbie Bungee is a really old lesson that has so many versions. My version has changed almost every year that I have done it. I have added and taken away things each year that I have learned from Twitter, blogs and my students. But it remains one of my favorite lessons and it is the perfect way to start the Bivariate Data Unit. It is also part of the Barbie collection of lessons since I have added Barbie Zipline. I really think Mattel should sponsor our math! Take a look back at the first years of Barbie Bungee!



When I moved to a new school, the layout of my room Barbie Bungee had to change as well. I added an amazing science teacher and a super fun hype video. I started with having students wonder about what kinds of questions they would ask as the owner of a bungee jumping business. Having math and science together enabled students to think about weight and heights along with elasticity and energy. 


Instead of using the trend line to predict a random height, like in the past, we had students predict how many rubber bands Barbie would need to bungee off the SCHOOLHOUSE! Our maintenance supervisor agreed to go on the roof and drop our Barbies. Students were given the height of the building to predict the number of rubber bands. Some were really close, others died a hard death!

It was super cool to have Barbie bungee off the roof....but....the next year, we thought, wouldn't it be more fun if the students could drop Barbie?! So we trekked out to the football field and had them drop from the top of the bleachers!

It was exciting to hear the cheers for thrilling jumps and aahhhhhs for not so thrilling jumps! We did not take into consideration the {power line} under the bleachers. A couple of Barbies probably wished we had! We had one wrap around so hard, she lost her head. The maintenance crew had to go out and retrieve those. We were more aware the next year and dropped away from the power line!

Present day, as a Curriculum Leader, I encouraged my Pre-Algebra teacher to give it a try. It felt like it was my first year doing it as I walked him through the planning. My teacher was excited, and so was I, as we set up his room for the data collection. 

The students were so into it that my teacher upped the excitement level by teasing them with the "DEATH DROP" the next day! As we set up the jump in the cafeteria, off the crosswalk, he said he wanted to "decorate" it more because the block column was plain. Say the word decorate and more and I am all heart eyes and fonts! I created zones and a poster for his drop and I think it really added a lot to the BIG DROP. 

Students were excited to see what zone their prediction would get Barbie into. It was fun listening to them as each group went. "I told you we should have said 32." "Our Barbie is already dead!" "That was her hair that hit, not her head!" The zones definitely added an element of anticipation. Because it was set up in the cafeteria, classes after lunch were eager to get their trend line equation just right. 

Some jumps were so close we posted them to our social media and asked for help deciding. This increased the hype and brought the community into our lesson. 

I am so happy I was able to help out with this one because it is definitely one of my faves! A close second to Barbie Zipline. Read all about it here and let me know what you think!

Grab the handout I used here and the interactive notebook version here.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Crow and the Pitcher Rate of Change

The Crow and the Pitcher is based on an Illuminations lesson. I used it as the introduction to linear functions to demonstrate a real-world rate of change for my students. The lesson is based on Aesop's Fable, "The Crow and the Pitcher." I began the lesson by reading the fable to them. You can also show this video from Sesame Street if you do not have the book. In looking for a video of the book, I came across this experiment. I showed only the first experiment and their minds were blown! So much so, that as they collected their data, I let the video play out. 

I borrowed graduated cylinders and beakers from the amazing science teacher on my team. The "pebbles" were rocks from the Dollar Tree. So not a lot of supplies were needed. The handout for the Illuminations lesson went a little deeper than I needed but leave it to Math=Love to have just the right one! You can find it here in her post about this same lesson. I followed the Illuminations lesson more than hers because it had more structure which I thought my students needed.

Students were in groups of two to three. I think two was the magic number for this activity. We discussed the variables that were in the fable and decided which was independent and dependent. They used height of the water as the dependent variable and the number of pebbles as the independent variable. They filled their graduated cylinder with 80 mL of water and we discussed what our first data point would be.

Students added one pebble at a time and then put a data point on their table. They continued adding pebbles until they filled up the table. 

I like the way this group would predict how much the water level would rise before they dropped the pebble in. 

Once they added seven pebbles, I had them share how many it would take to get to 100 mL. A couple of strategies they used were to extend their table and to see how many times they needed to add two to get to 100. We then talked about rate of change as the change in the dependent variable divided by the change in the independent variable. I used the Greek symbol for Delta and they immediately recognized it from our Greek Week when they memorized the Greek Alphabet. So all I had to do was define it as "the change in" and they were set!

Most groups' data was a rate of change of 2 mL/pebble. But for the few that were different, we had great discussions about why. Especially this group who sorted their pebbles and wanted to do the trial again because it had to be the "color of the pebble that messed up their data!" 


The Illuminations lesson continues to fill the container with more marbles to determine domain and range. I let my students do it for fun! 

Turns out, they taught me about water displacement, which they had learned in science! Showing, once again, that lead learner is a way better description than teacher of what I do each day! As with all real-world math labs we do, I hope that it gives my students something concrete to anchor their learning.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Teach Like A Pirate Book Study

The first huge professional development I led for my teachers in the new gig was starting a book club. My amazing admin invested in a book for every teacher and gave their full support by participating in the book study alongside the teachers. I chose "TEACH LIKE A PIRATE" by Dave Burgess for our first book because of ALL the amazing tweets and chats I had read on Twitter. My new school is full of amazing teachers who want to learn and grow so they were on board to learn how to teach like a pirate.

Dave Burgess offered to do a Google Hangout with us so I used that as the kick off for the book study. I kept it a surprise and planned for it to take the place of a faculty meeting. Imagine everyone's surprise when he popped up on the big screen in the media center with his crazy excitement! Every teacher got a book and bookmark, eye patch, and bandana after the Hangout and were ready to start reading!

Planning for the book study required a lot of thought about the reading timeframe and how to lead discussions throughout the book. I contacted several school leaders via Twitter who were also planning or had already led a book study on this book. This document has so many book study resources! Have I mentioned my big LOVE for Twitter and the awesome people who let you share and steal! After much collaboration, stealing, and planning I created a Google Site and had teachers create small groups of 4-5 that would "Walk The Plank" together once a week. The Google Site can be found here and is a collection of questions from #tlap chats on Twitter and Paul Solarz.

Walk the Plank was my favorite part of the book study. The small groups chose a time once a week to walk around the school for 5 minutes and discuss the reading for the week. I gave them suggested questions they could use if they ran out of things to talk about. Most groups walked longer than 5 minutes because they were so engrossed in their discussions. It was fun to see them walking and talking about how to teach like a pirate and bouncing ideas off each other.

The website I created had discussion questions for each chapter that teachers answered at their own pace. I encouraged them to go back and read comments made at the end. For my next book study, I want to do something different with this so that it is more of a back and forth conversation rather than just an answer to a question. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was the section with presentational hooks. "If I were throwing a theme party at my house for this subject, what would I do?" Yes! I use this one the most because it covers so many parts of the lesson. I created a handy dandy set of "hook" cards that teachers can refer to when they need a little creative boost for their lesson.

Burgess gives these hooks with questions to spark our creativity to "pimp" our lessons. I encouraged my teachers to just start with one, instead of waiting for that infamous flash of inspiration. Some started small with just a message on the board and others jumped in with full costume for an Ellis Island simulation!

My teachers were all in and the excitement in the building grew with every page we read! It was amazing to see the transformation of lessons and the experiences we were creating for our students. They were going home and talking about the mock trial and archeological dig instead of the "doing nothing" usually conveyed about what happened during their school day! Parents are commenting on our social media posts about how much they love hearing and seeing the lessons that are happening.

We are heading into the second semester with just as much enthusiasm as when we started and much of that is because we are trying to create experiences by teaching like a PIRATE!

Here are all the files!
Google Site
BIG Document of Resources
Walk the Plank Questions
Book Mark
Teach Like A Pirate Hook Cards

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Function Auction

I love teaching functions! Students have always understood them because of all the work done with rate of change, point-slope equations and relationships prior. I begin functions with some mathematical dating advice. You can imagine 8th graders' reactions when they see dating advice on the agenda! I have students cut out a paper heart for their interactive notebooks to add to the excitement. Then I write this on the board and ask students what they notice.

Students erupt with girls saying oohhhhs and mmhhhmms as they accuse Drake of being a "cheater" or "low down" or a "dirty boy!" The boys argue he is just a player! I ask why they are upset and lead them to say that Drake is cheating with two different girls. I tell them this is NOT a functional relationship. Through the years, I just change the boy and girl to whoever has the most drama that year! The last couple of years I have used (Archie, Veronica) and (Archie, Betty) from Riverdale and they love that too. They seem to never forget how to tell if a relation is a function or not. And the justifications they use to defend their answers, "-2 is not a function because he is cheating with 9 and 0 and that is more than one output," are priceless! 

Once they have practiced with identifying functions from ordered pairs, tables, graphs, and mapping diagrams we are ready for the SUPER awesome FUNCTION AUCTION from Math=Love. Being retweeted by her never gets old! It makes me feel like a math teacher super star! 


The prep for this activity is simple with only a couple of things that need to be printed and laminated. I make one copy of the Function Auction Lot Catalog, a bidding paddle and some monopoly money for each group. I also used my Bitmoji to create cards so that I have something to give them at the end of each item's bidding. It made it a little more exciting, especially when it was the garbage can they received!

Students are given $1,000 and five minutes to look over the catalog and decide which ones they want to bid on and work on a strategy as to how they are going to bid. Some groups bid right away, some hold out until the last item and bid all their money. The group with the most functions at the end of the auction wins. If there is a tie, we look at the group with the most money left. 

I love watching them strategize and listening to their conversations about which ones they will bid on and how. The Function Auction brings a lot of excitement to our classroom as you can see in the video below. 

There is nothing better than a room full of happy kiddos doing math and leaving class talking about how much fun they had in math today!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Equations with SpaceX ZUMA Conspiracy

My students love a good conspiracy theory and I love all things space, which I have pushed on them! So when I saw this event in the news, I knew I had to make it into a math lesson! Luckily, we were starting equations with variables on both sides so it was PERFECT! 

After watching the launch video where it cuts out after separation...adding even more to the conspiracy, I explained the manipulatives we were using with a model on the board. Students knew what CubeSats were because we speak of space often so that was a natural fit. And yes, I take every opportunity I can to wear my Space Camp flight suit! 

I used the missing payload to correlate to finding the unknown value of variables. We have also been using these puzzles every Wednesday as our Do Now so the idea of balancing was familiar to them. The first one we struggled through together. Setting it up and thinking about how we could balance it were the only instructions I gave at first. 

Once we productively struggled, I had a group share their thinking using the big model on the board. 

At this point, I let students work in pairs at their own pace through four other models using algebra tiles and unifix cubes. 

I loved listening to their thinking when they were trying to balance a scale that had CubeSats (unifix cubes, variables) on both sides.


Students were able to explain that the chips represented constants and the block represented the variable which was one of the goals of the lesson. Students learned that adding or removing the same objects from each side is analogous to writing an equation to represent the scale and subtracting the same amount from each side of the equation to find the solution. Once they had the hang of modeling the equations with the manipulatives, I had them write equations for each.

The missing payload was found in the ocean a couple of days later! You have got to love a good secret government conspiracy to teach equations! Go ask Google about the missing payload ZUMA from the Falcon 9 launch!