This week in CEP 810 we were asked to create a lesson plan (click here to view) that would allow students to use a piece of digital technology to design, create, inquire, play, problem-solve and/or evaluate and that applies to our curriculum. This week my Honors Pre-Calculus students were beginning to learn about polar equations. In a high-level math class like this, it can be difficult to come up with real-life applications or activities to allow the students to further explore the concepts. Luckily, I was able to find an activity by Meg Craig using teacher.desmos.com. The activity allows the students to explore what the polar equations can do before being told or handed a formula sheet. This gave the students the opportunity to play and inquire why the equations created certain graphs by using sliders to adjust coefficients and turning on and off graphs to compare and contrast. The students are also asked to explain their findings, general understandings of equations, and even test their knowledge with quick checks. The activity seemed perfect for introducing a new topic for my honors students. Allowing the students to learn to play with the equations was a concept that Thomas and Brown (2011, p. 97) stated would help create meaning.
After the students were given the opportunity to complete the desmos activity, I wanted them to have the ability to interact with their peers and create their own polar graphs using the desmos calculator. Once the students created five of their own polar graphs, they took a screenshot and loaded this into a google doc that they shared on a google sheet. They then would select another student’s google doc to try and write the equations to the graph presented and explain why they believe each equation they wrote related to the screenshot taken. Then students posted that they completed this task for feedback from their peer. Each student received feedback based on whether their equations were right or wrong and whether their explanations showed evidence of how they linked their equations to the graphs presented. This follows Hobbs idea to create, analyze, and reflect (2011, p. 15-17).
Allowing the students to use desmos and interact with each other through google docs and sheets brought the boring formulas to life by encouraging the students to explore and analyze how the graphs can change with different numbers and trigonometric functions. If I were to present this with the basic formulas like the book presents them, the students would not be able to make the connections like they did through this exploratory lesson. By adding the google docs component I was able to assess how well the students were interpreting the graphs and what I needed to provide assistance with the next day when student begin to graph without the technology provided in this lesson. I found that creating this lesson plan and being able to implement it really allowed me see how helpful digital technologies can be in the classroom. Instead of being asked to memorize formulas, students can explore the meaning of math to develop a better understanding.
Here is another link to my lesson plan.
Craig, M. (n.d.). Polar Graph Exploration. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://teacher.desmos.com/activitybuilder/custom/56380af288dcf076457536a0
Explore math with Desmos. Start Graphing. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.desmos.com/
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Michigan K-12 Standards Mathematics. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/K-12_MI_Math_Standards_REV_470033_7_550413_7.pdf
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.