Really Stupid Fun

At the start of the year you’ll recall we completed this geometric personal survey, tossing likes and dislikes into trapezoids, circle sectors, etc, and drawing self-portraits. At the start of the year I turned ’em all into PDFs. ‘Cause you never know.

Today, eight months later, I tossed their self-portraits back at them and asked them to guess student from caricature.

Some of them, we decided, were fantastic facsimiles of the real deal. Some of them reflected a student’s character better than her appearance. And others not even the original artist recognized.

Really fun, actually, though a really great teacher probably woulda had his students write some new-school-year resolutions and then review ’em here in the second half of the year. I’m not him.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. really great teacher probably woulda had his students write some new-school-year resolutions

    i think a really great teacher would do both.

  2. See, you SAY this is really stupid fun, and I say this is what it’s all about. I’d like to see assessment data from one class section where you strip “really stupid fun” out, versus all the others. Maybe there’s more in heaven and earth than is dreampt of in your math standards.

  3. I think a “really great teacher” would have had the kids upload their images to a class Ning. From there, he’d embed old 8MM film footage and have each student complete an embedded poll to vote on ‘who’s who’.

    Then, he’d provide the link in Twitter so the rest of the world could take note.

    On another note, sorry to read that you owed a lot of money for taxes this year. The secret to my refund windfall appears to hinge upon three life-altering decisions:
    1. marriage
    2. home ownership
    3. an inability to curb procreation

    Still not feeling esoteric enough to be jabbering about on your blog, but I thought I’d give it another try.

  4. @Ken, obliged for the sound financial wisdom. I’m making my way through those three as fast as possible while at the same time keeping The Church happy.

    @Dina, I’m being disgenuous & self-deprecating all at once in that last sentence & the title. I’m not gonna jump in and say this is what it’s “all” about but I do acknowledge and embrace the interplay between my students’ willingness to let me teach them linear equations & their sense that their class is fun and their teacher respects them and they can actualize a lot of their own ambitions within it.

    Definitely, yes.

  5. I’m curious (and a little bit sad) about whose caricature was the garbage can.

    And that final drawing appears to show that Courtney Love is in your class?

  6. That assignment epitomizes the plastic nature of the under 25 crowd. Sometimes, even I forget that who they are is changeable.

    I take a lot of pictures at the beginning of the year, and in labs. Kids always enjoy the end of the year slideshow of those pictures.

    Could you post a link to a template of your activity? I’d like to modify it for my science students.