Linking Cube Towers

This activity was completely stolen from Mary Bourassa's blog post so I will let you go there to read about it and download the file.

The premise is that students will use one color of blocks as their starting value for the tower and a bunch of different color blocks to use as their rate of change. They write a table, graph, and form an equation.

That part went pretty well, once students realized that I was not going to read the directions for them or tell them what to do. {Apparently I waited too late in the year to start teaching freshman about the beauty of reading and following directions.}

Then towards the end when students had to make predictions abut when towers would be the same height or at what step a tower has a certain amount of cubes, it kind of fell apart. I had to give a lot of instruction there when I had hoped that they could work through it without me.

And some who worked it out, didn't make connections to the algebra or the equations. It also seemed that they made no connections to slope, y-intercept, or the meaning of the graph being linear. The activity went okay but they didn't make any of the connections I was shooting for.

I put similar questions on their assessment and ended up not counting them as a grade since only 2 out of 14 students answered correctly.

I noticed at the end of this activity that I was thinking about presenting this activity to my juniors and seniors, just to see that they could do it and make the connections I wanted. I think I was putting blame on the students for not getting what I wanted out of the activity instead of taking responsibility for not scaffolding the activity well enough. I wanted to 'prove' to myself that I was still a good teacher, even if 'these' students didn't learn the way I wanted them to.

Now that it's over, I want to think of ways to make it better as well as more activities where students have to read and follow directions in order to learn something new without me. I've done this many times in the past, but not with 'these' students. Which is why I felt confident that my older students could do it. Instead of blaming students, I put the blame on my lack of quality activities.

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