I know that I have posted about this concept before, but sometimes it just seems that this happens to remind me that the more we surround ourselves with creativity and excellence, the more that seems to come our way.
I recently worked with a teacher writing a lesson plan where she had created scenarios and provided students graph paper and asked them to graph the simple scenario. These were nothing difficult and nothing earth shattering but were entertaining and helped students see real-life application of skills they were learning. One scenario might have gone like this:
Saturday was errand day for me. When I woke up, I walked fifty feet west out to the barn and soon returned to the house. Then, I got in my truck and drove five miles north to the bank. From the bank, I drove a half mile east to the post office. After mailing my letter, I drove west for a half mile to the library to return the books I had read. Then, I drove a half-mile west to the highway and turned north, driving three miles to the grocery store. From the grocery store, I drove south eight miles to get home. I unloaded and put away the groceries before leaving to go south four-and-a-half miles and then east a half-mile to the hardware store. I picked up a couple of things and drove back home. Please graph my afternoon.
For a math problem like this there was thought involved. Students had to determine if they should graph distance, direction, or number of stops. Students had to decide what type of graph would best illustrate the scenario – a bar graph, a pie graph, a line graph, etc. There could have been a question added to the problem to ask students to show the route or determine a more time or cost-efficient method and that might have required a map. My zip code or street address could have been provided and students could have used Google Earth to map my route and pinpoint the particular businesses I frequented. There are loads of ways to implement, adapt, and stretch such an assignment.
My teacher friend next provided her students with a line graph and asked students to write a scenario which the graph illustrated. Backward thinking. These stories could be given to another student with expectations that the second student would re-create the original graph and check it for accuracy. Then, the two students could consult to revise and discuss their problem.
An extension to this lesson might ask students to use Google Earth to find a locale and design a small community which incorporated the same businesses I patronized and project other businesses that might be necessary. Forward thinking.
Interestingly, today I stumbled across a resource which implements a similar assignment. Graphing Stories 15 seconds at a time is a simple lesson which offers students the opportunity to graph a story and uses videos to illustrate what students are graphing. One video simply shows a fellow climbing the steps of a slide on a playground, sitting at the top of the slide, and sliding down the slide. Students could pause the video and take a screen shot. Then, graph the fellow’s route using a drawing tool such as Educreations or Google Drawing. Next, they could research to find out what is the optimal distance for steps on a ladder or a children’s slide, count the steps, and determine how high the slide reaches. The slope of the ladder and the slide could be determined using geometric principles.
An extension assignment might ask students to create their own video and their own math problem using this one as a model. Another extension assignment might require students use their findings to design their own playground slide.
Why couldn’t the math, language arts, and social studies teacher work collaboratively to graph historical events, discoveries, or even just the height of Presidents? Why couldn’t economics, math, and language arts classes work collaboratively to write explanations of supply and demand or fair trade and create illustrative videos and graphs? Why couldn’t world language and math classes collaborate to use such a concept to demonstrate new vocabulary learned in the language? Need I even think of all the ways math, language arts, and science teachers could collaborate to create such descriptions, explanations, videos, and graphs?
I might never have paused when seeing the website mentioned if Tabitha, my teacher friend, had not implemented her scenario-graphing exercise. Yet, her idea made me notice this site and made me pause and think of more ways to incorporate such an idea into a classroom.
Ideas…more ideas flow just by pausing to think about a simple idea.