Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quadratic RAFTs

I felt like my students were not yet ready to test on quadratics again (all methods of solving), so on Friday we took a day to recap what they've learned so far by writing RAFTs.

When I first heard about RAFTs, I was pretty excited, but I wasn't sure how juniors and seniors would respond.  To be honest, we do some pretty cheese-ball stuff in my classes, and I think this qualifies as such.  But, cheese-ball can be hilarious.  Here's evidence of the hilarity:

Role: Discriminant
Audience: America
Format: Campaign Ad[1]
Topic: The usefulness of the discriminant

Dear people of America,
They drew this on their paper,
but I'm too lazy to scan it
Are you tired of solving quadratic equations and wondering what the answer should be?  You waste minute upon upon trying to figure out when to stop solving.  Not with the discriminant.  With the discriminant you can instantly know what to look for while solving.  The problem under the square rot becomes hardly a problem at all if you vote to keep discriminant around.  Do yourself a favor, and check 'Yes" for "Vision D"!
Sincerely,
Board of Discriminants  

*****

Role:  i
Audience: Negativity
Format: Letter
Topic: How i and the negative numbers work together

Dear Negativity,
Your square root is always bringing us together.  At first we had a problem because you were always being fake, but then I came around and made being a real a possibility.  I know that sometimes your square root makes you feel imaginary but I'm always there to rescue you when he does that.  Many, many years ago you were a problem to everyone and no one knew how to fix you.  When I came along things changed and your negativity no longer was a problem.  I love you and your square root.
Sincerely,
i

*****

Role:  i, The Illusionist
Audience: Potential magic show-goers
Format: Ad
Topic: The coolness of i

Hi, my name is "i."  Some call me "Imaginary," and some call me "Illusion."  If you come out to this amazing show you won't regret it!  There are many fascinating things about me that I would like to show you!  Depending on when you catch me at the show, depends on my reality.  Let's just say there is a certain pattern to me.  Sometimes I am just imaginary when I feel like being myself, but I can also be in the form of -1, -i, and 1.  Do you think you can figure me out?  Come to the show and you will see!  Or will you...?

*****

I let my students work in "groups" of ones, twos, or threes.  They brainstormed on whiteboards, and then wrote their final product on a clean sheet of paper.  The activity took about thirty minutes.  A few of my students had written RAFTs before, but most of them had not.  So there was a lot of "I don't get what you want us to do."  And there were a few kids who just sat there for the first few minutes, which I'm pretty ok with.

I definitely had to encourage some students more than I did others.  But, reading the final drafts was both fun and enlightening for me.  It's clear that there are some topics that the students really understand, and some that we really need to discuss further.  This is what I love about writing in math class:  it's incredibly revealing, is it not?

[1] Sounds more like an infomercial to me, but to each his own.

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