When math teachers at Columbiana Middle School looked at their data, they realized one area of struggle for students was graphing on a coordinate plane. At the same time, the physical education department was looking for ways to integrate traditional subjects into their PE classes. The result was a unique collaboration between the two departments that hopefully will improve both their students’ understanding of a difficult math concept, while at the same time encouraging exercise.
The teachers worked together to develop a graphing game using blue tarps that represented the two-dimensional coordinate plane with an X-axis and Y-axis. In the four quadrants of the plane were a variety of various exercises, such as burpees, jumping jacks, and sit-ups. Students rolled a pair of dice and then had to record the numbers as their X and Y coordinates. The students then had to complete the required exercise.
The students had a worksheet that guided them through the activities, which included rolling the dice, graphing the ordered pair, and completing the required exercises a total of 12 times. The students did the activity two times during the day, once during the math period and once during their PE period.
Sixth-grade math teacher Patsy Casella said by the time the students did it a second time they really had a good understanding of the math standard. That understanding of the concept is something the teachers are hoping will show in pre and post-test results.
The worksheet also included questions to get feedback from the students on whether the activity, which incorporated movement and exercise, had any impact on their overall learning process and ability to stay focused and alert to the task.
All Columbiana Middle School teachers got to join in the fun during the teacher workday (Data Day) on Monday, February 17 when they participated in the activity in preparation for introducing it to the students on Tuesday and Wednesday. Science teacher Brad McClaran joked there were several teachers complaining of sore muscles the next day from the increased physical activity.
McClaran said despite the sore muscles, he personally enjoyed the activity and feels it was a very engaging way to teach both math and physical education components of the lesson to the students.