I used Sarah Carter’s Representations of a Relation Telephone activity last year. You can read all about the activity in her blog post. In short, it works just like the game of “telephone”. A student starts by writing six ordered pairs on the bottom, passes the paper to the next person who creates the graph, who passes it on the the next person who creates the table from looking at just the graph. This continues until you get to the top of the paper with the ordered pairs again. If done correctly, the ordered pairs should be the same.

I really liked it, but I knew there were some tweaks I wanted to make the second time around, and it went much better this time. Part of it could have been that I had already explained the activity once, so I did a better job of explaining it and anticipating where students would struggle. The first year I did this I actually had one group start whispering ordered pairs into each other’s ears. I don’t know if they just weren’t listening or if my directions were that bad…probably a combination of both. Thankfully that didn’t happen this year!

Sarah also shared an updated version of her activity here which also helped as she’s included more instructions on the sheet itself.

The first time I did this I made the mistake of having one piece of paper per group of 4-5 students. What was I thinking?! That meant for 10+ minutes about 6 students in my class were working while the others were supposed to wait patiently?! Not my brightest move ever. This year all students had their own paper so everyone was doing something at all times. This went MUCH better.

As I watched the activity with my first class of the day, I noticed that it was taking students FOREVER to just fold the paper, and one student commented, “Folding the paper was the hardest part of this!” I found that rather than folding it in an accordion at first it worked better for my students if each person just folded the bottom representation under before passing their paper on to the next person -these instructions are also on Sarah’s updated version.

Overall it was a big success. I loved watching students look at where the mistakes were made when they were done, and the second time they did it several students were thinking ahead when they created their ordered pairs to try to make it “easier” or linear -which will lead perfectly into what we’re getting to later in this unit. I even had a student who doesn’t usually get too excited about much of anything say, “This is actually fun.”

I was thinking today what other concepts this could be used for and remembered one I made last year for my 6th graders on exponents. Since last year, I lost the editable version of the document I made, so I recreated it and added some of Sarah’s instructions to it. You can download the file here.

What other concepts could this idea be used for?