Monday, January 14, 2013

Pattern Project

Today my kids handed in a project that they totally rocked.  The entire project was made possible by Fawn's awesome new website visualpatterns.org.  I had already decided to introduce the idea of linear relationships through patterns and was starting to plan this unit over winter break when she posted about her new site.  It seriously could not have been more perfectly timed.

So last week I had kids work through a station activity on patterns.  I collected and gave feedback on that activity to ensure that they knew what they were doing.  The next day I introduced the project.

They were to go onto visualpatterns and choose any four patterns they liked.  I pulled up the website and gave them a very little bit of direction on what may be good types of ones to choose, but ultimately it was entirely their call.

Their task was to choose two linear and two non-linear.  This in itself meant they had to be able to identify a linear pattern.

For each pattern they chose they needed to:


·      Include a picture of the original pattern.  This can be printed, drawn, created, etc.
·      Show the next two steps of the pattern.
·      Explain in writing how the pattern is changing.  You may include math (numbers, symbols, operations, etc) as well, but make sure that your answer is easy to follow for someone unfamiliar with the task.
·      Create a table of values for the pattern.
·      Create a graph.
·      Tell whether your pattern is linear or not.  Give reason to back this up.
·      For the two linear patterns: Tell the equation.
·      BONUS: give the equations for the two non-linear patterns.
·      Display all of your information in a neat, clear, professional, easy to read format.
[note: no lined paper]

This is my algebra 1 class and we had barely started really writing equations so I didn't want to put too much focus on the equation part.  Instead, I wanted to make sure they REALLY know what it means to be linear.

This is the instruction sheet and rubric I handed out.


I will fill out four of the first rubrics per kid (one for each pattern) and then one of the overall ones.  I printed them out two to a side so 4 rubrics is only one sheet of paper.  I know it looks crazy involved, but it's actually really simple.  I like things to be as clear as possible so it makes it really easy for me to grade.

The set of rubrics for each kid

As far as the part for "Overall Project & Format" I told my kids that I wanted creativity.  Now I don't think anything is wrong with a project that neatly and correctly on simple white paper or on graph paper or something.  I made it so that a simple project can get a max of a 95 (which is awesome) but to get that extra 5 points I told them I wanted to be wowed.

I actually did have some rationale behind this.  I am NOT the type of person that wants work to be pretty if there is not educational reason behind it.  I'm teaching math, not art.  I am certainly not giving out points for things to just look pretty.

Since we are dealing with patterns I thought that physically building models could really help to solidify the meaning of a constant rate of change.  Let's say they were building a linear pattern with toothpicks that consistently increased by 2.  Each time they build a new figure they would physically have to reach for two extra toothpicks.  Or for one that increases more exponentially, they would find themselves needed more and more additional ones each time.  

After explaining the whole thing I actually had kids that said it looked fun.  I've been excited all week to see what they came up with today and was actually holding off on posting on this project because I had a good feeling that they would hand in things that I was going to want to share.  

Well they totally rocked it.  They were actually excited to show off their projects to one another this morning.  It was so cool.  I got a couple that opted for graph paper and did everything they needed to, but the majority of them certainly went above and beyond and built some very cool things.  

I have to put this one first because this girl has way more imagination than I ever will.  She turned it into an adorable story.  Never in a million years would this ever have crossed my mind and I love it.  You need to check out what she wrote at the top of each page.  Enlarge the pictures if you need to, trust me it's worth it.















Aren't they awesome??!  I've still yet to grade them, so I'm sure there are mistakes here and there but overall it seems that they did a very good job with linear/non-linear and identifying the patterns which was my goal.  I am thrilled.  It's also worth mentioning that these were really entirely independent.  I was actually expecting more questions and I got barely any.  After I introduced it, there was virtually no talk about it and today they came in done (most of them anyway).

Now the only issue is finding where in my room to display these.  They are way too good not to show off!

3 comments:

  1. I'm stealing your handout and your rubric, Sarah. I like how you made the equations for the two non-linear patterns to be a bonus rather than required. And you already know how much I love your kids' continuing the pattern with REAL stuff!

    Maybe the library or cafeteria could have room for you to show these off? I'm out of wall space in my room too, and the cafeteria is where I normally seek out next.

    You and your kids are using this site exactly as I'd hoped. You make it so much better and all worthwhile. I THANK YOU!!!!

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  2. Great project!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your photos of student work as it really helped me wrap my head around the variations in final product. I did a portion of your pattern lesson with the math group that I coach and plan to do the whole project with my pre-algebra class in the upcoming weeks.

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  3. Awesome! THanks for showing your student's work. I just gave your project to them on Friday since this is what we are working on, and they are all stressing about what they need to do. This will help give them some examples. THanks for this awesome blog!

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