Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dancing with the Functions

I'm honored and humbled to have been a (small) part of Christopher Danielson's online course The Mathematics in School Curriculum: Functions. There were some great tasks, discussions, and contributors. I now have a better misunderstanding of functions. However you interpret that last sentence, let me assure you that this two week course broke me down in order to give me a better perspective and idea of functions. Professor Triangleman moderated the course well, provided challenging tasks and opportunities that took me out of my comfort zone, encouraged us to think differently, and didn't hesitate to whip us into shape as you can see here:

He's referring to beating me down while informing the teacher's pet (Fawn) of his tactic.
Our choices for our final project were:
  • a blog post,
  • a lesson plan,
  • an interpretive dance,
  • a work of visual art,
  • etc.
I thought writing a blog post was "too easy" in the sense that I could blog about anything ordinary at anytime. This class wasn't ordinary though, and I felt I'd rather try and give something back to the class, professor, and community in exchange for what I have received. No Fawn, not because I'm "too lazy." Therefore, I'm going to give you a lesson idea I have, based on an interpretive dance, which might be a work of visual art, all wrapped up in a blog post.

Interpretive dance really got me thinking. I thought back to the handful of dance lessons my wife (fiance at the time) and I took to practice for the First Dance at our wedding. My wife was a natural. As for me, well let's just say all the dance lessons in a lifetime wouldn't have helped. Here's a dance photo I have of us where it actually looks like I'm doing something worthy. Don't be fooled.

Don't worry, I won't torture you with video. Anyway, our dance instructor taught us many helpful tips and gave us a glimpse of dances like swing, salsa, the waltz, and the two-step box. We only did a few moves in our wedding dance, but it mainly revolved around the two-step box. We had a short song, thank goodness. I'm sure our guests would have taken their gifts back had they seen me dance any longer.

Here comes my lesson idea. I'd like to see the relationship between the number of steps taken in a dance over time. So let's make it a graphing story. Here's the first 30 seconds of a dance. Write a story for it. Even better, can you write the functions (along with any intervals, domains, ranges, etc)? Go here to Desmos to check your answers. I give you my interpretive dance.

Thanks to Sadie, Timon, and Michael Pershan for inviting me to their hangouts. I was honored to collaborate with you guys during one of the hangouts and bounce ideas off of each other. Thanks to Fawn for getting me in trouble, ratting me out to the teacher, and reminding me to submit my final project. Where would I be without you? Probably in class and not in the principal's office.

I would love some feedback on this lesson idea. Would you have your students dance? If so, what dance(s)? Would you have students come up with a function for each type of dance? What kind of relationships would you have your students look for? Would you consider "dancing" an applicable use of functions? I leave you with this clip. You must give these guys (Sean and John Scott) some crazy respect. They're insanely fantastic at tap-dancing. Just watch the first minute. Then make a graphing story.


1 comment:

  1. K is beautiful. How the hell did you get so lucky?

    This is your "interpretive dance"? Sheesh. Nice try. Got my hopes up for nothing.

    Here's what I'm thinking. We show the students by actually dancing to the different music (well, not you obviously) and/or showing video clips of the different dances, like "swing, salsa, the waltz, and the two-step box" (cha-cha-cha is my fav though, it's all about Santana), then give the kids the graphs of these dances, and see if they could match which dance to which graph.

    Oye Como Va