Flip Books as a Bodacious Learning Tool
January 15, 2015
After all these years of teaching how to make books I have now become smitten with using books as a teaching tool. Yes, I know, using books for instruction is anything but a new idea. This said, flip books have captured my interest because they are fun and dynamic. Among other things, I’m pairing them up with mathematical equations to illustrate how the picture of an equation changes when there are changes in a variable. So far I’ve shown some of these flip books to a couple of my smart but not particularly mathy friends and what happened next is so worth writing about.
The first thing that happens, of course, is that my friends flipped the pages. Everyone loves a show. The gif in the box above is a pretty good representation of what they saw in one of the books. A gif is fun, too, but it’s not as effective as a flip book in that it doesn’t allow the viewer to slow down and examine what’s going on. I saw this happening so clearly: my friends were drawn into the equation by the action of the flipping, then they slowed down, looked at the images more slowly and tried to understand what was going on. They had great questions.
For instance, Sarah thought I had made a mistake in labeling these pages. She hadn’t sorted out how the graph of y=50x could be so similar to y= negative 50, after all 50 is arguably a large number while negative 50 is indisputably a very small number. It was easy enough to explain how this works, and she absolutely understood it. What I understood was that, without the flip book, she would have never been interested in having had this conversation.
John also had some questions. He couldn’t fathom why I showed lines with slopes equaling 1 to 8 in sequence, then started skipping to 12, 20 and 50. When I pointed out how the lines were becoming increasingly indistinguishable from each other as the slope becomes larger, he better understood my choices of which slope values to use.
It’s taken me quite a bit of time to get to the point where I’m ready to show this first equation-of-a-line book to anyone. There will be two or three more books to go with this one: one that shows only “b” changing; one that shows the graph when the changes in “m” are between positive one and negative one; and a book that shows b and m changing at the same time.
I’m hoping to get some feedback on these from classroom teachers. Here’s my plan: after I have this y=mx Flip-Book finished I will make a few extra copies and send some out to teachers who are willing to point out flaws in my presentation. In my next post, when I’m ready (hopefully tomorrow) let me know if you want to be one of my collaborators. Even though I’ve already worked through at least a half-dozen different variations of this one book, there are still things that I am not sure about. More about that when I continue…