Learning how functions create points, lines and shapes on a graph may not seem like the most exciting classroom activity, but scholars in Scott Clithero’s classes tackled the subject with smiles, enthusiasm and knowledge this week.
Mr. Clithero kicked off his class with two review questions for scholars to quietly work on at their desks, before asking for a volunteer to write the answer on the board.
A thunder of snaps of encouragement from throughout the room set the tone for the rest of the class.
“Transformations are important in their own right, how things change is an important mathematical concept,” said Mr. Clithero. “We use our knowledge about transformations to define congruence and similarity, the next two units. Furthermore, representing transformations using function notation extends what students learned in last year’s Algebra I class and also prepares them for more use of functions in Algebra II.”
After walking the scholars through a page of notes explaining how changes to x and y variables would result in changes to the final graph (spoiler alert: changes to x impact the horizontal and changes to y impact the vertical), Mr. Clithero got his class up and moving with a reinforcement exercise called “Quiz, Quiz, Trade.”
Each scholar was given a flash card and asked to stand up, put their hand up, and then pair up (SUHUPU) with another student with their hand up before politely quizzing each other on their flash cards. When they finished they each put their hands up again and paired up with a different student, getting a chance to quiz on a variety of flash cards while giving each other high fives of encouragement.
“I first learned about SUHUPU from Peggy Dersch,” said Mr. Clithero. “It is one of the engagement strategies that is expected to be mastered by all teachers by the end of the year. It's absolutely essential for scholars to interact with each other to practice their communication. Also it reinforces math concepts and gets their blood flowing. Its hard to sit for an entire period, much less an entire day.”
Mr. Clithero said the “Quiz, Quiz, Trade” exercise was just one of the methods he used to make math fun and interactive in the classroom.
“I try to do an ‘engagement strategy’ in each class. It usually ends up like 4 times per week though,” said Mr. Clithero.
He said he also works to try to give scholars as many chances to succeed as he can, noting that he will frequently be allowing scholars to retake quizzes for a new grade.
“If they showed they have learned something then their grade should reflect that,” said Mr. Clithero.. “I want to motivate them to relearn a concept even after I've moved on to something else.”
The one requirement for scholars to retake a quiz is that they must be completely caught up on their lifework for the class, something Mr. Clithero warned scholars he would be calling their parents about. But he found a way to make even reminding scholars about lifework fun and engaging.
“I’m gonna call your parents on their cell phone,” he sang, before playing a portion ofDrake’s hit “Hotline Bling” while scholars finished up work at the end of class.
Mr. Clithero said his scholars would be working on learning about congruence and similarity in the weeks to come, noting that his favorite thing about mathematics is the use of logic.
“Proving something is true because of mathematical concepts or reason rather than because it feels or looks right,” he explained.