Stopping Distance Reflection – Where did it take us?

We are studying quadratic functions.  We started with the Stopping Distances data to look at quadratic data visually.  Our hypothesis was that the distance required to stop while braking is proportional to the square of speed, d=k·v².  Many of our learners had trouble fitting the curve; they were hesitant to take a swing.

What if we read Peter Reynold’s The Dot in class?  What if we encouraged our learners to just try to find an equation, to see where it takes them?  What if we used the TI-Nspire Navigator to “frame” their first marks, to celebrate that they took a swing?

Here’s what @fencersz, a learner in DD’s 3rd period, said in a couple of tweets to me about the class:

@jgough I thought it was really interesting to look at math in a way that involved creative problem solving as opposed to just applying a set model to the problem, was surprised b/c I’ve never though about math like that b4 and would like 2 get better at this.

What if we did this for each other too?  DD just happened to come for part of my class while I was teaching Stopping Distances.  She liked it, but said she thought she could never teach it.  We agreed to team-teach the lesson in one of her classes.  The following is her reflection on teaching it alone for her other class.

I had the best time teaching my 5th period today.  I know it was not as smooth as yours, but I think it was pretty good for my first go-round.  I remembered things to say that you said; there were even things I sort of got lost in, yesterday, that I wasn’t planning to do, but understood what you did when I got to it and was able to show the kids.  I don’t think they had any clue that I was just learning what I was talking about when I gave my spiel on velocity being speed with direction to explain one reason it would be quadratic rather than exp.  The kids were asking great questions and making good connections.  They were also engaged.  Thank you for teaching this to my third period so I could learn it.  I know you felt horrible yesterday, but you trooped on over anyway.  What about you and me team teaching this lesson in 4th period PLC as our first lesson study (so we can improve it for next year) with the new TI-Nspire software?

Model learning.  Encourage others.  Try new things.  Collaborate.  See where it takes you.


  1. […] As we plan, are we intentional to craft learning experiences so that learners grapple with content, process, and skill? Do we plan and collaborate so that learners scrimmage before game time? Do our learners experience needs, applications, and connections for what we are learning?  In our team (coaches) meetings, do we discuss and plan meaningful scrimmages? […]


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