Saturday, 20 February 2016

Log Clothesline - My Post-Activity Post

Yesterday, I ran the log clothesline activity with two of my classes.

What I liked:

  • The great math conversations. They had not worked with logs for a while now, so some remembered a lot and some, well, not so much. They were talking to each other about how to get going with tricky expressions at their desks initially and the conversations continued when they were at the clothesline trying to place the cards in the correct order.
  • The collaboration. Those who couldn't even remember how to go from logarithmic form to exponential form got help in their groups. They asked each other questions, they checked each other's work and argued about who was right. 
  • The struggles. Apart from the one card with a typo (oops!), all of the others worked out. However, I made this a no calculator activity (horror!) so they had to work smarter to reduce the amount of arithmetic required. Those log rules really became useful.

What I would change:

  • I found this activity worked much more smoothly with my smaller afternoon class. I only had 13 students in that class yesterday and everyone was engaged and busy. My morning class, which had 24 students, had more "traffic jams" around the clothesline causing other students to step away and no longer be engaged in the activity. I would put up two clotheslines for a larger class next time. 
  • I also liked having extra cards in my afternoon class for those who finished quickly, so I would make more cards next time or have two sets for a larger class.
  • The change that would have the biggest impact, I believe, is adding more number markers to the line. I had a 0 marker, but the struggle to correctly arrange all the expressions on the line was greater than I had planned. I asked my afternoon class if they thought having more number markers would help, and they unanimously said yes! I loved that some were using the small whiteboards to work out the expressions from other students' cards that were already on the line, but it became overwhelming.
I definitely think this activity was worth doing and that all students got something out of it. Here is the final clothesline:


  1. "Those log rules really became useful."
    Sounds like a learning objective was met. Yes?

    I love your reflection and what you would change. Specifically, I think many teachers can relate with having a larger group and the activity being a greater challenge. What do you think about this? Pass out two of the same card to your class of 24. This way you have two groups working on the same question. This might allow them to compare and contrast their methods of solving AND their placement on the number line. This cuts down on the work you have to do (both prep and monitoring) and builds capacity in your students with the possibility that they will argue of provide peer feedback. Thoughts?

    1. I love this idea (sorry it took so long to reply!). Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to give such great feedback.