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Hopscotch and math functions: Learning by moving

Back left Leeland Peery, front Tanner Arnold, special education teacher Aaron Berry, math teacher Sarah Low and Alex Boynton.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

What do you see when you combine a beautiful April day, prior math learning, and engaged students? At Schoolcraft High School, students and staff created and participated in “Hopscotch Functions.”

Schoolcraft high school math teacher Sarah Low was nearing the end of a unit on mathematical functions. She had covered the basics of functions and created an activity she calls “Hopscotch Functions,” to identify functions using different representations, including symbols, graphs, equations, and tables.

Functions are important mathematical concepts, usually involving a constant, an independent variable, and a dependent variable. An everyday example involves putting gas in a car and estimating how far a person can travel: the constant is the car’s miles per gallon, the independent variable is the number of gallons added to the gas tank, and the dependent variable is how far the car will travel with those gallons.

Low explains, “Students were divided into groups where they practiced and created functions and non-functions in the classroom before we went outside. Once outside, they drew visual representations in hopscotch squares with chalk.”

The game: determine which squares represent functions and jump only on those squares.

Students eventually rotated to the different hopscotch games created by classmates.

Research shows that some students learn best through movement, and, of course, Low’s timing was perfect—it was a beautiful 75-degree day.

Reflecting, Low says, “I thought it went well overall. They asked a lot of good questions while they rotated, and they seemed more confident in identifying functions after the activity.”

From the smiles of staff and students and the active learning happening, this lesson was a success on all levels!

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