Function Aerobics

At White Mountain, we believe that there is so much more to the classroom than what is in students’ textbooks or what is written on the chalkboard. Classrooms demand attention to content, and inspire expression of that content in new and innovate ways. Recently our AP Calculus students were given the opportunity to bring physical life to the material they have been working with in class.

Academic Dean and AP Calculus teacher Shane MacElhiney has a unique goal for his math course: to bring movement into his classroom. During last week’s Project Block (a three-hour time slot on Saturday dedicated to one course), Shane did some “function aerobics” with his students.  Borrowing ideas that he learned from a recent conference, Shane’s class attempted to capture what the graphic forms of different algebraic functions look like with arm and body movements.

Shane explains the project, “we extended what is typically done in math classes to include differential functions, in order to practice connecting the algebraic calculus to the graphic form of differential functions. When you string a bunch of different functions together, you can get a choreographed movement.  As a class, we did these to music.”

Tori Breen, a White Mountain senior and accomplished dancer, shared this video of her own “function aerobics” routine.

About her dance, Tori says, “Shane asked me to use some of the skills I’d been working on in choreography class to create a function dance. With my body, I modeled the graphs of basic functions and their transformations, and then used choreographic tools like space, dynamics, and repetition to create several phrases.”

Thanks to Shane, White Mountain math students were able to take mathematical concepts and apply them to the physical world – a terrific way for students with certain learning styles to better understand the content in hand.  With the ability to create their own routine that mirrored the progression of different equations, these students used inquiry to engage with the material at hand to create their own unique forms of expression.

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