CCSSM expects students to understand transformations as functions. With Web Sketchpad, algebra students exploit this standard: Using geometric transformations they vary variables; experience domain, range, and rate of change; and connect their learning to the graph of `y = mx + b`.
Richard Feynman famously said “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” The focus of today’s session is to enable students to create their own functions with variables that students actually vary, with relative rate of change that they observe, analyze, and control, and with functions whose behavior creates patterns and pictures. These sensorimotor experiences of creating, manipulating, and observing mathematical objects are all aimed at helping students develop a deep and broad understanding of function concepts.
▹︎ Big Ideas (5 min)
As students construct, manipulate, and analyze transformations from a function point of view, they build conceptual understanding through a focus on the big ideas.
▹︎ The Dilate Function (15 min)
In this activity you'll create an independent variable, a rule, and a dependent variable. You'll vary the variables, make some patterns, analyze the relative rate of change, and solve interesting challenges.
▹︎ Restrict the Domain (5 min)
▹︎ Create a Dynagraph (20 min)
Create your own composed Dilate-and-Translate function restricted to a number line, modified to put the dependent variable on a second number line. Analyze how the dilation scale factor and translation vector affect the motion of the points, and how they relate the values of the variables. Finish by playing the Dynagraph game, trying to match the behavior of a mystery function.
▹︎ Create a Cartesian Graph (5 min)
In the capstone of this series of activities, students create the Cartesian graph of a linear function using only dilation, translation, and rotation functions, and understand the shape of the resulting graph in terms of the dilation scale factor and the translation vector.
▹︎ Discuss & Reflect (10 min)
How is this approach in keeping with Feynman’s observation about creating in order to understand?
How might it work in your own classroom?
What problems would you anticipate?
How might it encourage your students to notice, and to wonder?
What other questions and comments do you have?
A sequence of free classroom-ready activities implementing this approach is available on this web site.
The activities are divided into two units. Click on either heading below to go to that unit’s web page.
The activities in both units include dynamic websketches, student worksheets that can be viewed online or downloaded for printing, and help videos that scaffold student’s use of Web Sketchpad tools.
▹︎︎ The Fine Print
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