Whiteboarding Mode: Simultaneous Show and Tell

Side note: Simultaneous Show and Tell is a terrible name for this whiteboarding mode (because it kind of sounds like a lot of whiteboarding). Forgive me, I cannot think of anything better. So… propose a better name?

[update 11/25: Andrew in the comments suggested "Function Iron Chef" which is definitely the winner. That's what this whiteboarding mode is called now]

Students are in groups of two at a whiteboard with a VERY LARGE set of 3 X 3 axes drawn up on the board. They are sitting in a U shape so that if everyone put up their boards, every student could theoretically see everyone else’s. I put up a prompt like this:

Draw a function such that…

  • \lim_{x \to -2}=3
  • f(-2) does not exist
  • \lim_{x \to 1} does not exist
  • and f(1)=-3.

I put the timer on. Students are given a few minutes to draw a function (any function, lots of correct answers!) that fit the prompts. Then, at the end of the time, everyone puts their markers down and puts their board up. We spend a minute silently looking around the boards to look at everyone else’s work. Then, after a minute is up I allow the students to ask questions of each other (i.e. not just say “THAT ONE IS WRONG”). If they don’t ask questions about some that are suspect (or some that are totally correct), I will ask questions at the end to talk about specific boards. We then do 5 or 6 other rounds like this.

POSITIVES: We have done this so far with limits, continuity vs. differentiability and will do it in a few weeks with graph sketching – I think that making them do things the other way around, making them create (instead of just identifying limits or whether a function is continuous) really forces them to think harder. I also like this because when students have to show their work to their classmates, they often put a little bit more focus into making sure they are proud of what they have (and just about every student is engaged in the process, especially if you make them switch markers). I also love times to showcase mistakes as part of the learning process - we try to be as open and supportive as possible in correcting the boards. Lastly, having a discussion in a math class is always a really nice change of pace.

ISSUES: Students can get a little crazy during the discussion process and some can phrase things negatively. Not all students are good at following along verbally when discussing, and will wait for others to point out mistakes in the board. A few times the whole thing has taken a long time with all the transitions, but it has gotten better every time. I’m not sure how the weak students feel about this activity (having their work showcased and critiqued). Also, I’m not sure that this type of activity would be great for anything but a topic where the students already have some fluency and mastery.

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Posted on November 24, 2012, in Calculus, Teaching, Whiteboarding. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. My favorite part is the 1 minute silent period. Everyone needs a little time to absorb what they see on the other boards and this gives that processing time.

    Oh wait, I also love making the kids come up with a function that meets the constraints. Maybe you could have the kids vote on their favorite solution and justify the reason for their vote. We do this with the Mistake Game and I always award some cheesy prize to the best mistake. Kids tend to remember the other mistakes better if they vote on them.

    You absolutely need to gather all these whiteboarding modes together in one place. I’m loving them!

  2. Two percale/functions teachers are doing variations on this and calling it Function Iron Chef. I started with basic domain/range constrains, but as they’ve added new descriptive terms, those all fall into the f:IC bowl. I think there’s a literal bowl or hat, and possibly an elaborate picking ritual. I hear about this in the faculty cubicles and it often ends in giggles.

  3. instillnessthedancing

    I have enjoyed reading through your posts on whiteboarding today. I teach all algebra 1 … will be thinking about more efficient ways to use our boards in the coming weeks. Right now we practice – I do, we do, you do … but that gets boring fast. I love the idea of collaboration and discussion around open ended problems. That will be my goal for January and our unit on solving systems of equations.

    • it’s weird that when you put some sort of different structure on the practice component it feels totally different. i feel like i’m tricking them into practicing! kate nowak (http://function-of-time.blogspot.com/) has a lot of great stuff for this like Add Em Up, the Row Game etc that is great for this and easily adaptable to whiteboards.

      • instillnessthedancing

        I”ll check out Kate’s site. I use partner practice, circuits, etc … always looking for a different spin to peak their interest.

  4. Bowman

    I like the idea of this being a public exercise. I have long put questions like this on assessments since I like the idea of multiple correct responses and I LOVE the idea of kids creating their own mathematics. I am curious about the nature of any mistakes you’ve seen. The most common mistakes I run into are domain / range mistakes (when I restrict either of them the kids are flummoxed) and I often get sketches that match individual restraints but they are not functions. I also like putting in horizontal asymptote clues as well.

    • Yeah, ditto on getting a picture that has all the restraints individually but don’t fit together (so yeah, not a function because the parts overlap). I haven’t really figured out why that what happens yet, but I don’t see it as so crucial to the exercise (it’s more for the calculus stuff) so usually I comment on it but don’t harp on it. Most of e other mistakes seem to be limit vs function mistakes…

  1. Pingback: Day 56 – Function Iron Chef… And then break! « BOWMANIMAL180

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