Ski Slopes – Day 5

Day 5 – Slope

I always use the ski analogy to teach students slope.  This year, I added some Powerpoint visuals and a very fun Teacher Tube video to spice up my lesson.  There are two things that I focus on when teaching slope:

  1. Read a graph from left to right, just like you read a book.
  2. When you think slopes, think about skiing!

I picked where I left off in the previous lesson, and had a “reminder” discussion about M. The students got out their graphing worksheets to review.  We talked again about how M determined the steepness of the line and which direction the line went.  I told them that M was a pretty pathetic name, and that we needed to come up with a better name for M.  As a 6th grade teacher, at this point I had kids yell out crazy random names.  BUT, I told them that we would have to give M not only an interesting name, but also a descriptive name so that M would not easily be forgotten.

Since I’m a Powerpoint fan now, I made a Powerpoint full of ski slopes and put a big ski slope on the screen just as I finished this talk.  Instantly, many kids said, “Slope!” like they had discovered it all by themselves.  Some kids were disappointed that we decided not to use their more creative names, but most students were very happy with good old “Slope”.

I then presented them with animated skiers going up, down, and off of the sides of mountains!  I love using Powerpoint, as I can make it much more fun than my usual little stick guy falling off an undefined slope drawn on the whiteboard.  It was great for a laugh as usual.  Next year I need to add more positive and negative slopes with the corresponding equations.  While most students did get the connection between the graph of a negative slope and -M in the equation, I need to be more explicit to increase comprehension for all of my students.  I believe that adding the equation to each slide will fill in this gap.

After my slope lesson I introduced my students to my best slope discovery of all  – a fantastic “Slope Dude” video that I found on Teacher Tube.  It is cheesy and fun – just up my math video alley.  The kids LOVED it.  It is actually so catchy that I now say, “Puff, puff positive” and “Nice negative” every day.  It also defined the word “undefined” a “cuss word” in mathematics, which really entertained my 6th graders (hopefully enough so that they will actually remember it long term)!

I really love the online PLN!  Thanks Slope Dude!  : )

4 thoughts on “Ski Slopes – Day 5

  1. Hi, I read your blog and I have to tell you the story of the cheesy Slope Dude Video. I was presenting at our state’s math conference and was telling the audience about how I often use stories or skits to introduce new math topics. One of my characters is “Slope Dude.” I love to tell the kids the story of slope dude, a not so bright guy who goes skiing and learns about math in the process. I really ham up the story and have even been known to bring props like ski clothes and other ski paraphanelia. This story always gets the kids cracking up especially the part about how slope dude knows how to cuss in math language.

    Any way, a couple of years ago, there was a guy in the audience was so inspired, he went home and created the slope dude video. He sent it to me and I show the kids this video every year after I tell my little story. The kids love to make fun of the video and how cheesy it is. If you look at the very end, the creator gives me credit for the story. The kids are always schocked by this , and say things like, “wow, miss you are famous!”

    Anyway, I am glad the video helped you and inspired you!

  2. I’m so excited to “meet’ you! We LOVE your Slope Dude! I have always used skiing for slope and was even going to wear my ski googles when I taught it last week but couldn’t find them. My kids all asked me who you were after the video was over (and if I knew you), now I can say I do! I’m your new biggest fan and I would love to steal your other stories!

    I put together a y=mx+b song and dance to the YMCA song (since we used the Y for the y-axis already). I put in the puff-puff positive, nice negative, zero slope and undefined…. at the end. I’m teaching it to them tomorrow. I’ll video it and post it so you can see your Slope Dude story in yet another recreation!

  3. Pingback: My All Time Favorite Middle School Math Lessons | I Speak Math

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