Year One

The Hills Have i’s

I recently taught my Algebra II Honors students about complex/imaginary numbers (the square root of negative one). We seriously struggled to grasp the concept, so instead of just giving a test that everyone would fail, each student wrote a complex numbers children’s story. They had to build a story that somehow incorporated complex numbers.

The baseball player wrote about a game called “complex ball” where at each base he had to solve a math problem. The girl who wants to be an OB/GYN wrote about delivering complex number babies. One girl wrote about a girl, Jill, who had a crush on a boy, Jack, and so she asked him to help teach her complex numbers. One of my favorites was from a boy obsessed with Jordan’s, who replaced all the numbers in the problems with pictures of that edition of Jordan.


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I also required each of them to read their story to the class. There was a beautiful moment when one boy was standing at the front of the room, holding his book, waiting for everyone to be quiet so he could begin. Just as the classroom settles down, one of my favorites stands up, points to the reader’s crotch, and yells, “HE’S GOT SEMEN ON HIS PANTS!”

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