Friday, May 22, 2015

#codemath: Student created code on simplifying square root expressions

Today as an extension activity for students that have already mastered simplifying square root expressions, I offered students a chance to complete a symbolic example using my #codemaths structure.

Here was the minimal prompt given to students in a unit google document:
Fill in the gaps in the worked out solution in this #codemaths project
I gave a short explanation of how the variable "a" is randomly generated and when they type [a] it will output that value instead of the letter "a". (I recently switched from <a> to [a] to allow for simple html formatting to be used in code output. <b></b> for bold, etc.)
Students only needed to "fill in the gap" of the potential worked out solution from their perspective on how they would solve it--filling in enough detail that would help a fictional struggling student viewing it as a potential worked out solution.

The existing code in the worked out section looks like this:

And will print out:

For the sake of not giving away the solution to the problem, I will just share screenshots of the student output from the #codemaths worked out solutions they wrote and emailed to me:

"Remember to give credit to the makers!!!"--Melissa and Katelyn
"Here mr. schwen this is my super awesome code"--Ken
Pretty fun application for the kids and little time is spent explaining writing code because of the simplified process and kids are thinking more deeply about the mathematics embedded in an activity like this at a pretty highly symbolic level.
One student, wide-eyed and excited, said to me after getting his to work that "This is really fun!" I like too that there is a trial and error aspect to this as they refine and revise what they think will output and what actually does show up when they test it out.
In all honesty, not all my students are doing this but for the kids that are ready for it, it turned out to be a great discussion and application of where we had been in our mathematics and a good preview as to how math can be used in an increasingly more coded world.

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