flipped classroom Khan Academy technology trigonometry vine

Ambiguous Case Vines

We all live in a consumer’s world, and we do an amazing job at acting entitled. These two factors have culminated in the invention of Vine–an app used to create six second, looping video clips.

Yet another way in which students can create, share, and network around media. Unfortunately, I feel like my students don’t often have an attention span longer than a Vine video.

In my opinion, Vine has two qualities that make it an interesting tool for math education.

  1. Stop motion video capabilities allows students to quickly see what might otherwise be acted out or verbally described by the teacher. (How many times have we used our forearm to represent slope?)
  2. Rapid looping means that students can watch multiple times. This should allow for pinpoint tutoring. (If it is possible to pinpoint a student’s exact misunderstanding.)
The digital classroom is expanding rapidly. Agents of the flipped classroom are posting lecture videos in order to use class time for tasks that focus on deep understanding. The Khan Academy was set up around the idea that lectures can be available instantly to anyone who seeks them out. 
Various math teachers have developed things like 3 Acts, #WCYDWT, #dailyDesmos, and MakeoverMonday in an attempt to harness the powers that technology have and the unique connection it enjoys with today’s youth. 
Vine presents a different animal all together–a sort of ADHD math tutorial. They cannot (and should not) be used as instructional pieces, but rather as illustrative aids. Students can pause whenever they need to, restart in a matter of seconds, or focus on a particular portion of the loop. 
These first few are really just an exploration of mine into this new software. Vines could be used to quickly introduce estimation tasks, show graph shifting, or step-by-step equation solving. Some applications open doors for deeper thinking, and others tie the bow on a topic or procedure. 
My jury is definitely out on Vine’s educational significance, but I’ll try anything once.
I targeted a topic that students had trouble with last year; the topic had to include some kind of spatial movement. I settled on the ambiguous case of the Sine Law because the students who could visualize the situation scored significantly higher than those who just plugged blindly into a formula. 
My textbook tries it’s best to summarize the cases. It uses dashes and colour as best as it can. Paper just can’t capture the movement necessary to build an effective visualization. Compare the four cases on paper, and then via Vine. 
(These four vines–and more–can be accessed here)
I like the questions that the book asks, but don’t think that paper has the ability to make them obvious to the students. The movement allows students to see why the number of solutions can be changed by the lengths of the sides. Vine also allows students to see which sides and angles must stay constant, and which can vary. 
On the whole, it is an interesting way to develop spatial intelligence in students. Vine could be a powerful visualization tool, or another passing fad courtesy of the rapidly expanding interweb. 

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