To function or not to function? That is the question.

Function or Not sorting activity



Wait, that makes no sense!
I love introducing functions each year with a little storytelling. When I was 16 and applying for my driving permit, I just knew that by the time I got my license, 5 feet 5 inches tall was going to happen. 5 is a favorite number of mine - it's a prime, it makes a nice drawing - so 5 feet 5 inches was always the ideal height. Did I make it? No! By 16 I was done growing. Once I came to terms with this sad fact, it became a great story to introduce functions. "Can I be 4 feet, 5 feet, 5 feet 5 inches, and 6 feet tall all at the same time?" My students always give me a, "seriously, this is Math?" face when I ask this along with an "obviously not" scowl. But it gets the point across! Vertical lines are not functions because they make no sense in real life!

So then I draw 2 graphs on the board and asking students which of the two could possibly happen in real life:  


"I'm 5.5 feet tall when I'm 15, 16, 17 and 18 years old." or

Function or Not in Special Ed Algebra 2

I'm 4 feet, 5 feet and 6 feet tall when I'm 16 years old.

Function or Not in Special Ed Algebra 2

Every student knows which one "makes sense" every year. This opens some great discussions about what it means to be a function aka: able to happen in real life.  

If you are introducing functions this year, this FREE function or not sorting activity that introduces the topic in terms of graphs, tables, equations and coordinate pairs. 

Match it
I love matching activities. They allow students to independently work with difficult concepts early into the learning of the concept. Once students gain confidence, then they can go on to answer more open-ended questions. To me, this early confidence building is a key part of teaching Special Education students, especially in Algebra 2 where everything is so abstract. This function stories matching activity is a great one to get students seeing the link between graph shapes and movement. You can omit some of the cards to make the activity less challenging for students with reading difficulties.

Function stories matching activity in Special Ed Algebra 2

Let's show it off
And when students get a little more confident and are ready for a more open-ended activity, they may be able to dray the graphs themselves! I love it when kids want to show off their work by hanging it in out classroom. This function stories pennant activity works both as an assessment of understanding of functions and adds to your classroom decor. Win win!

Function stories pennant





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