However, newness or uniqueness has nothing to do with student engagement. Students eat this stuff up! The last time I had a student ask me when we were every going to use this was when we were calculating percentages for tips in a restaurant. Eh, it probably happened when we were looking at rational functions last year but I bet I blocked it out to pretend I was doing a better job with that unit than I actually was.
This is the only slide I put up on the screen. We talk about how I will drop the Barbies come show time--feet touching the bottom of the board. We talk about some way to get Barbie's hair to stay down so we can get good measurements. We talk about being respectful of other classes while we're in the halls. And then they go for it. We spend the rest of the first day gathering data, creating scatter plots, drawing lines of best-fit, creating equations and figuring out how many rubber bands we will need to get as close to the ground as possible.
After a couple of years I started requiring some certain work in order to meet my objectives. Each student must: gather data, make a scatter plot, create a line of best fit, find the equation for the line of best fit, and show work for finding the number of rubber bands they want to use.
-a videographer (uses my iPad): We use this for instant replay while I'm on the roof. Any disputes get settled quickly by going back to the video.
-a photographer (uses my phone): I attended a technology conference years ago. The keynote speaker--whose name escapes me at the moment--said if we don't tell our stories someone else will. It's why I started blogging. It's the day I got a Twitter account. I want my parents and my admin to know the awesome things that go on in my class. I want to steer the conversation in the direction I want it to go rather than hope my principal comes in on a 'good'; day.
-2 measurement experts: These are the folks that are in charge of the scoreboard. They corral everyone into putting their group names on a piece of masking tape and then placing the masking tape at the appropriate height on the scoreboard. All while I'm on the roof.
And of course, if you give students your devices, they will take selfies. *sigh* I deleted lots of them this year.
It's not that I'm a better math teacher than most. I decided to start telling my own story instead of letting my students, my admin, or the broader culture tell it for me. The rest of the world doesn't know the awesomeness that is math class.