Picture Frames & Quadratics

Fawn Nguyen shared an awesome practical lesson on solving quadratics. Since we’re reviewing that in Precalculus, and I love doing fun lessons, I thought I’d do it as well. Note: I haven’t gotten my students to beg (yet).  I decided to use another teacher for the picture–he’s our Spanish teacher and he & I often make fun of each other to our students since we’re such good friends. Some of our students think we hate each other. It’s great.

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So I wrote the following instructions on the board–this is an activity I wanted them to start after their quiz, so I had to explain it just by the writing on the board. I added the “tip” afterwards.

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One student came up with the idea of cutting every slice of paper in half repeatedly until all the sides were full.  Pretty clever of him. So I made the unspecific rule “make as few cuts as possible”.

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We’re not done: we’re going to finish this on Friday. And I’m always disheartened by how unmotivated many of the students are. They had 3 sheets of paper for trial & error, yet they were reluctant to cut anything. Some of them “gave up”, even though they did the very thing I told them not to, and they easily could have made each side longer.

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One student got pretty close and claimed to have done “all the math necessary”, yet his sides & top/bottom were off from each other by a whole cm. It’ll be good to look more closely at his math with the class.

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It was disheartening for them to give up and not beg. Perhaps that’s a difference between middle schoolers and high schoolers? I need to work on their curiosity and perseverance. Any suggestions?

 

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