An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix & NumberFix

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Teacher's Guide:
A Compare & Contrast Lesson
Linear & Exponential Growth Poetry

a poem for math class inspired by increasing numbers

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada math teacher Kellie Kareck during the NNWP's iPods Across the Curriculum Workshop.

This writing prompt inspired by

two Schoolhouse Rock songs, as well as a Coke commercial and a "Powers of Ten" video.

A note for teacher users: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Background on this lesson: This lesson can be done in different classes to discuss different topics (linear vs. exponential growth, algebraic vs. geometric sequences, even with basic students to see the difference between adding and multiplying). The teacher should refer to them by the correct terms to teach the topic they are on.

Hopefully, most math teachers already own copies of the Schoolhouse Rock videos cited in this lesson. If not, you can visit the following pages to get the songs' lyrics and to link to You-Tube, where the videos are posted and can be downloaded to your iPod.

Step one...Sharing SHR videos, perhaps from your iPod: Hand out this listening worksheet on “Naughty Number Nine” and “My Hero, Zero.” Tell the students they should fill in the numbers that they hear in the song. Play “Naughty Number Nine” first. Before going to the next video talk about what the numbers were, and have the students fill in any they missed in the correct order.

Before playing the next song, tell the students this time they are going to be starting with 10 and will be listing the numbers that the video says they can multiply by. They will not be able to fill in the entire table from the song. Play “My Hero, Zero.” When the video is finished have the student fill in any numbers that they don’t have on their sheet.

Give the students time to work on each of the remaining questions on the worksheet. Work on one question at a time and have students discuss their answers before continuing on to the next question. The idea is to get the students to see how fast exponential (geometric, multiplying) grows as opposed to linear (arithmetic, adding).

Step two…sharing two more videos: 

Explain that there are different ways to represent exponential (geometric, multiplying) and linear (arithmetic, adding) functions in the real world. Explain that they’re going to look at a couple of ways to represent it.

Pass out this Christmas Tree worksheet. Play the 1970's Coke commercial and pause it at the end so that the students can see the Christmas tree; if you are using a computer that allows you to see You-Tube videos, you can play the commercial using the link just below. If you can't acess You-Tube at school, you can download the video below from home onto your iPod and play it in your classroom that way.

Count the people in each row starting at the top. The first row has 1, the second 2, and the third 3. Stop there and pass out the worksheet. Show the class how you started to draw the tree and have them continue the drawing and fill in the numbers as to how many people are in each row. (Do as many rows as you feel necessary.)


Next have the students finish the worksheet and discuss the questions as a class. Be sure to discuss what type of function (sequence) this is. Ask them to think about other ways that they could represent a linear equation (arithmetic sequence).

Now put on the famous 1977 “The Power of Ten” video. It is linked below and can be played from this page from the TeacherTube website. Teachertube is often VERY slow, so know that the same video can be found on-line at YouTube, where it can be downloaded and played over your iPod.


Pause this video after two or three squares. Point out that the squares are increasing by a power of ten each time. Show the students how to read the numbers along the edge of the picture. Then pass out the Powers of Ten worksheet and have them guess the answers to the questions.

After they’ve had time to fill in their guesses, turn the video back on and have the students fill in the real answers as they find them. (Turn the video off after you get out of the galaxy. The video is over 9 minutes long and reverses back to negative powers of ten. Save that for another lesson.) Discuss the answers as a class.

Explain to the class that they are going to write a “sort of” poem to illustrate the difference between linear (arithmetic, adding) and exponential (geometric, multiplying) equations. They will need to pick a base number and a unit of measurement. Each line of their poem will increase by one step. Each line must also relate the two values together in some way.

Step three…introducing teacher/student models of writing:  To demonstrate what you mean, show the students the example “What can I do with $20?” Here, the base number is 20 and the units are dollars. Each line increases by one step. The two halves of each line relate to each other. The second line is about food, the 4th line is about transportation, and so on. There are other examples you can show at this lesson's student samples page.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.

Step four…thinking and pre-writing:  Pass out the graphic organizer and have students plan their poems. If they need fresh ideas, have them visit this lesson's student instructions page, and have them press the buttons on the interactice choice buttons.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment a this link Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   To promote response and revision to students' first drafts, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5."   Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings.  For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-it® Note-sized templates, click here.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step five (editing for conventions):  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor.   If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers.  With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it.  The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.


Step six (publishing out loud and on-line):  The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.

Learn more about Schoolhouse Rock videos by clicking here.

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