Saturday, June 15, 2013

Textbook Revision Idea

I read with interest Dan Meyer's plan for Makeover Mondays this summer.

My workplace, curriculum, team ... they were all new this past year. I was surprised to learn that the Algebra teachers didn't use the textbook at all. I am not a fan of textbooks, but to not use them at all seemed drastic. After all, all resources have some value.  As it was we created almost all of our own materials.  Some were OK, maybe a tad better than the book and some were not.

So, I am taking Meyer's challenge to heart in an effort to create more worthwhile learning activities for my students. I am looking through the textbook that we don't use to find problems that could be revised and made useful in our curriculum.

Today I chose #24, from page 240, of Holt Algebra 1 published in 2007.

I chose this problem because we start the year studying functions and relations.  We do quite a bit of graphing, analyzing graphs, discussing domain, range, continuous, and discrete.

I also chose this problem because this last year while my family was reading "real food" blogs and working on maximizing nutrition, I noticed that my ninth graders ate a lot of junk food.  Now I don't propose to preach "real food" to them, but I thought it might be fun in the first week of school for everyone to bring their favorite snack food.  (I've heard that the way to man's heart is through his stomach and I'm wondering if this maxim will help me win the hearts of my 14-15 year olds!)  The only "rule" is that students must bring the snack in the original packaging so that we can use that packaging for math!  (I'll bring a few snacks myself so that we have plenty to work with).

I'll ask teams of students to chose 5 snacks to compare.  I'll ask students to create two graphs each illustrating the relationship between 2 elements of nutrition on the packaging.  First I'll ask students to examine the relationship between fat grams and fat calories as pictured in the textbook problem.  For the second graph students can choose any of the nutrition facts to compare.  I'll ask students to create a mini poster with their snack packaging and the graphs.  Then we will discuss if the elements of nutrition they compared represented functions or relations and why.

My specific goal in reworking this problem is to provide real data for students to analyze.  Additional side goals include enlisting their interest in math class and bringing attention to the nutritional value of the food they snack on.

PS ... during the summer I hope to find a really good article ... something short and on target for teens that discusses nutritional values as a bonus to this math activity.

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