Wednesday 24 February 2016

Linking Cube Towers

I am not doing a daily blog about my grade 10 applied class this semester. This is not because everything is the same as last year or eve last semester. In fact, I have changed almost everything so far in this first cycle. I have different warm-ups, am doing topics in a different order and have made some new resources, too. If I'm not happy with things, I cannot leave them alone. I have thought about sharing what I have done at the end of each cycle - if that's of interest to you, please let me know.

Last year during a lesson study process we looked at an activity that involved students creating towers out of linking cubes and competing to see who could get the tallest tower. This is what I mean by linking cubes (also known as cube-a-links and unifix cubes):

I believe the students all had cards that told them how many cubes to begin with and how many to add each time. It went fairly well, but once a student was "out" (because their tower fell), they were no longer really engaged. Anyway, that is what inspired today's activity which will be my students first look at solving systems of linear equations. I am trying to have them really understand how the starting value and rate of change will affect their towers (and corresponding graphs). We have done a few visual patterns and solved some equations with a variable on both sides, so I think they will be ready for this.

Here is the file. I would love feedback. I will add a postscript if it's a disaster ;)


  1. what you make is gold..please kindly post your cycle updates..definitely would read.

  2. I love the approach; I am thinking about adding a drawing component (isometric) and perhaps extending to include surface area. I am about to play with the idea.

  3. Wondering about a game version. Roll 5 dice. Largest is the number of turns. Starter chooses to pick first or 2nd. First pick chooses a die to be starting value or rate of change, next pick chooses 2 dice, first pick gets the last die.

    Thinking about how to make the crossing matter. Like Valerie's isometric drawing idea, too.

  4. I am following your 2015 grade 10 applied stuff! I wanted to try out spiraling when I heard you talk about it at OAME last year so I've been copying you. Thank you so much for all that you share...I tell everyone about you. Our department is going to try this out with our grade 9 applied classes next year as it's going so well in 2P. If you don't mind sharing at the end of each cycle that would be amazing!