MTBoS Challenge 1 – Constructions & Sickness

I have a large number of guided-inquiry labs that I am quite proud of in Physics.  But I’m not teaching Physics this year – which is definitely having an effect on my motivation and happiness.  However, in between the days when despair overtakes my better senses, I’m working on doing interesting things with Algebra II and Geometry.  (note:  I just looked at the prompt and I wrote too much, but I’m leaving it all here)

Algebra II – I have a lesson and a curriculum that I am proud of, and I think they’re a nice combination of being rich but also very very real.

Credit card debt and exponential functions.  I blogged about this before and looking back it’s a lesson I’d like to do again.  It can easily be modified for exponential functions, but I really like how you can use recursion as a low entry point.

WGHAA Curriclum (actually download the AMBASSADORS curriclum from here, but it’s a huge pdf).  We took topics from Algebra II, and shoehorned those concepts into lessons about Cholera, Malaria, Influenza and Tuberculosis.  There are also matching lessons for US History and Chemistry.


Geometry – this is my first year teaching Geometry, and I just today decided that the given textbook was crap and I don’t understand why anybody would want to learn Geometry that way.  So I’m mostly going to throw out the textbook, and try to teach the class with this general sequence in mind for each topic/unit:

1)  constructions

2)  conjectures

3)  problems

4)  then proofs.

So a rich problem for that?  I keep coming back to putting a gable on a roof, so maybe I’ll make something out of that.


6 thoughts on “MTBoS Challenge 1 – Constructions & Sickness

  1. Your topics sound very interesting! I would think that these topics would motivate all types of learners. Do you find that? I am also struggling with finding the “right” book to teach with. Is there really one out there? Your sequence seems to make sense to me (an ordinary middle school teacher).

    • It’s like I’ve found myself saying to students: There isn’t one right answer, but there sure are a ton of wrong answers. There isn’t one right math textbook, but some are definitely way off the mark.

  2. Thanks for this! I like the idea of using credit cards to introduce the concept of recursion – haven’t done that before.

    Are you guys using the WGHAA curriculum across the different subject areas or are you just using the algebra sections of it? It doesn’t match exactly to the UK curriculum (where I’m based) but there are bits in there that seem really interesting – thanks for the heads up on that too!

    • I wouldn’t have thought of recursion either, but the Discovering Advanced Algebra textbook builds linear and exponential functions from recursion. I really liked that process, and I’ll probably take the same approach toward exponential functions this year.

      We wrote the WGHAA curriculum when I was teaching just outside of Seattle, and I’ve since moved to Wisconsin. In my current school, I’m the only one teaching some parts of the curriculum. No one has asked about my previous experience, so I’m trying out the lessons in my class before I spread the good word around my school.

  3. Living in a developing nation (is that the current term these days), studying disease and applying even the basic math we cover in a pre-algebra class might be attention grabbing.

    From graphing, data collection, basic statistics, there are lots of directions one could move on this project.

    • That’s excellent! You can also grab a ton of great data from Gapminder. There is a lot that can be done with basic arithemetic to model disease spread, or to make comparisons between treatments.

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