Math = Love: Yarrrrrrr!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I just read through Dave Burgess' Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator for the second summer in a row.  As I filled my copy with even more underlining, highlighting, and margin notes, I ran across pages littered with post-it notes that were covered with lesson ideas that I wrote down last year as I read through the book.  Some of these lesson ideas came to fruition.  Others didn't.  Some still appeal to me.  Others don't.

For the most part, these are not fleshed out lessons.  They're either original or semi-original ideas I thought of while reading the book or lessons that I've read of others doing before that I was reminded of while reading.  Either way, I thought I would share them here on my blog.  First of all, I can search things that are written here on my blog.  It's hard to search post-it notes when you're looking for a lesson idea in a pinch!  Also - maybe somebody will fall in love with one of these ideas, carry it out in their classroom, and blog about it so we can all read about it!

Graph Aerobics for Families of Functions in Algebra 2 - Act out linear, quadratic, cubic, quartic, square root, absolute value functions with arms

Slope Aerobics - Act out positive slope, negative slope, zero slope, and undefined slope with your arms.  I actually did this this past year.  We turned it into a game of Slope Dude Says (like Simon Says).  I talked about this during my Global Math Department presentation, but I haven't blogged about it yet.  So much fun!

Go to the home ec kitchen for class.  Pull various food items out of the cabinets.  (If there is no food stored in the kitchen, bring food from home and pretend it was from the kitchen!)  Have students determine how many servings are in each container.  How many containers would they need to buy to feed the entire school?  Ratios and proportions in action!

Have class in the gym on the basketball court.  Have students make free throws.  Calculate their free throw percentage.  If repeated, you could extend this to calculate percent increase or decrease.  Use as an opportunity to review converting between fractions, decimals, and percents.

Go outside.  Divide students into groups of 5 or so.  Each group needs a hula hoop.  Lead students through the team-building activity where students stand with hands joined and pass a hula hoop around the circle.  In each group, students measure the amount of time it takes for the hula hoop to go around the circle once.  Then, each group uses ratios/proportions to calculate how much time it will take for the hula hoop to go around a circle composed of the entire class.  The group with the closest guess wins.

Algebra Vocabulary Charades - Could prove to be hilarious!

Introduce the idea of functions as a gang.  (Relations must pass the vertical line test to be part of the gang.)  Come up with some sort of hand signal to represent the function gang.  Project graphs/equations/tables/sets of data on the board.  Students must flash the function gang sign if they want to accept the relation as a function.  Students could take turns being the bouncer.  Other students draw a relation that is or is not a function to test the bouncer.

Have a wrapped present at the front of the classroom to introduce the idea of using the do/undo method for solving equations.

Graphing with Twizzlers - Actually did this lesson and blogged about it here!

Play pictionary with describing graphs - Have done this lesson, too!

Transform marriage of Q and U into a math lesson somehow.

Tape a graph to the back of each student.  Students must ask questions of other students and use that information to graph the line on their individual dry erase board.  Bring board to teacher to have checked.  Emphasize use of proper vocabulary in describing graphs!

Have students draw/design theme park attractions based on different families of functions.  Function World.  :)  Contest - what theme park would you rather attend?

Compare isolating the variable to a quarantine.  Have caution tape hung around classroom to build interest.  "Enter at your own risk."

Time travel to the time before calculators to learn why we rationalize the denominator.

Mystery of the Cooling Corpse - Set up room as a crime scene.  Taped outline on floor for corpse.  Crime scene tape on door.  Have school employees as suspects.

Secret password needed to enter classroom.  Vocabulary Word - post definition outside of door.

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  1. Ever hear of Evernote? It's an app on your smartphone/tablet that you can keep notes on. Notes can be typed, handwritten, or pictures you take with your device. What's really nice is you can search the text in an image. It might be a nice way to organize those post-its while allowing you to search them. But, I do like that you post them since I love to hear your ideas!

    1. I just started using Evernote a few weeks ago. I didn't even think about using that for this. Brilliant! Thanks for the suggestion. (And, don't worry - I'll keep posting my ideas!) :)

  2. I am curious, would you recommend the book? I am looking for a few professional development books to read this summer...
    Smack Dab in the Middle

    1. ABSOLUTELY! It's not your typical professional development book. It's not a book of ready made activities. Instead, it's a book of questions to ask yourself to help create experiences for your students instead of lessons. They're meant to help us all unleash our creative side in the classroom. I read it last summer, and I just reread it this summer to see what new ideas I could come up with. Definitely recommend! My copy is filled with highlighting and underlining and margin notes.