INPUT OUTPUT Mania ... This MACHINE Will Ease the Frustration

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The past few days I have had so much fun (code word for pulling my hair out) teaching function tables or what my kids call “the input output thing.” It’s always a challenging concept to teach, but I have found something that has made it a little easier. It helps the kids understand the pattern is between the input and output, not the row of inputs or columns of outputs.

This “machine” is actually pretty simple to make. I found a old sturdy box and raided my junk scrapbook containers and used anything that would make it look like a machine. I cut slits in the sides for the INPUT and OUTPUT, so I could slide the numbers through. I tell the students this is my magic function machine. At first they believe me, but when they see me writing the outputs on the paper it gives it away. It builds a concrete understanding of what the function table is for and the relationship between the two “PUTS.”

I say something like this to get them thinking about how the “machine” works ...

TEACHER: “I insert the number 4 into the INPUT slot, then the RULE is applied to the number 4, and then a 9 comes out of the OUTPUT.”

(think time) Have the students record the numbers on the dry erase sheets

TEACHER: “What happen to the number? Talk about it with your team or partner.”

STUDENTS: Some kids may say it increased/went up. Some will say you added 5 to the number. Some will be a little confused
TEACHER: “Let’s try another number and see what happens.”  I insert the number 7. “A 7 goes into the INPUT and a 12 comes out of the OUTPUT.”  Have the students record the numbers on the dry erase sheets

I repeat many times with many different rules. It eventually becomes a FUN game of mental math and guess and check. The students love it and understand the patter happens between the INPUT and OUTPUT.

These are the dry erase sheets I use for the kiddos to record the numbers that go in and go out. I print them out and slid them into a heavy duty page protector. These have lasted me 3 years so far! = ) 
 Let me know if you have any tricks that helps easy the frustration of function tables for your students.


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