Today was a great day.
Linear and Non-linear Functions
Today, the lesson was on linear and non-linear functions. After plotting points and noticing that a ruler can’t go through all five, we stood up, hands at our sides.
I stood on a desk. Because it’s my class and I can do what I want to.
“Elbows out.” [I show them.]
“Arms out.” [All students are making a T.]
“Arms down.” [Everyone is giggling, but obeying.]
“When I say go, show me a linear function with your arms… go!”
The class snaps into a variety of positions, all with straight arms.
“Awesome. Arms down. Now show me a non-linear function…go!”
When 5th period arrived, the day went from good to great. First, they barely made it to one linear function before they were karate-kicking chairs and each other.
“Huh… Okay, siddown.” I said, hopping off the desk.
They froze. “What?”
“Yeah, I’m not gonna fight you so we can do fun things in class. Siddown.”
We do some more practice and agree to try again. We make it through a couple successful commands before Lorraine takes it up a notch:
“Can we play Simon Says?”
Hell yes, we can!
Simon says ‘show me a non-linear function’.
Simon says ‘show me a function that makes a vertical line’.
Arms down. Ah! I didn’t say ‘Simon Says’. You’re out, you’re out, you’re out. Sit.
Simon says ‘show me the YMCA’.
Today, we tackled the Red Vines task, and it was friggin’ awesome.
Previously, we established that one of Mr. Stadel’s hands holds 18 Red Vines, so our guesses hovered around 100-120 (5-7 handfuls).
Halfway through the video answer, we’re at 150 and I hear Frank.
“Goddammit! I only put 130!”
When’s the last time you found an activity for math class that got kids amped enough to curse about it?
For the record, Frank thought he was mumbling to his neighbor, and I didn’t discipline him. Judge if you must, but I’d much rather have excitement and foul language than boredom and silence.
The real highlight of today, however, came when the video slowed down.
…and Donte is out of his seat, pumping both arms in the air, chanting, “Two hundred! Two hundred! Come ooooon, baby! Two hundred!” He’s dancing back and forth as only an amateur pro athlete can.
Then, Mr. Stadel pulls out the 201st Red Vine, just to taunt Donte.
..and Donte’s arms fall to his sides, his jaw drops, and his eyes deaden. He stands transfixed, staring at the wall, crestfallen that he was so close to a perfect guess.
And I laughed my ass off.
Months later, I realized what a bummer it was that Donte was so crushed by guessing 201. His previous 7 years of math education had taught him he was wrong, even though he was 0.5% off of the correct answer.
Thankfully, after a few more months of these, Donte grew confident enough in his process to be content with having his product be different from the answer key.
~Matt “Hasn’t Eaten Red Vines Since Middle School” Vaudrey