Day 28: half-your-age-plus-seven

I have been at a stand still in finding activities/resources for introducing inequalities that both perplex students and transition naturally into the concept. Last year I started by putting x>3 up on the board and scaffoled my way up to multi-step inequalities. I wasn’t happy with the results; students had a very small base of conceptual understanding, which did not transition smoothly into linear inequalities.

I took a risk today and developed my own introduction. I really wanted to focus on letting students ask the question and approach the concept from a different direction.

I threw this up on the board;


Then asked students if they had ever heard of the half-your-age-plus-seven rule. Not a single student had. They calculated half Brad Pitt’s age plus seven; 32. I asked them if this had any meaning? A lot of students didn’t believe he was 50, so we Googled it.

After I told them he is married to Angelina Jolee;


“Brad Pitt is all good according to our rule” I told them.

At this point things started falling into place, we talked about what the rule might mean and decided that it would be creepy if Brad Pitt dated anyone younger then 32.

Up next…


Professor Xavier they shouted out. Well our rule says 43.5 is the cut off. We talked about possible ways to work around the decimal; round up, round down, keep it. I let the students decide.

We went through who he is married to and finished up with the one:


I had students write a sentence about what our rule meant, it took a while for it to evolve but they eventually came up with:

It is creepy for Mila Kunis to date anyone under the age of 22.5.

We have been working to translating between words and math so I asked students to translate this into an expression.

If z is Mila,

then z > 22.5

After we talked a little more about if we should include 22.5 in the range of ages then moved into a few notes about inequalities and how to graph them.

Each period I taught the lesson it improved and I tweaked things around. I know there is still plenty to change and the tons of potential to further develop the lesson. What is just as important for me though is I was excited about the lesson. I was not excited about lecturing on how to interpret x > 3. Students feed off that excitement and it becomes a better experience for everyone involved.


Day 21: Super Bear

Geometry wrapped up Sam’s lesson on Conditional Statements and went through a gallery walk.

IMG_0330 After we talked about what puzzled them and questions they had. One area students struggled was seeing relationships between the posters, they were hesitant to draw any conclusions which I see as a good thing. We debriefed with an example then went through some practice statements.

In Algebra students worked through Super Bear which is another of my favorites.

Here is a quick run down of the lesson:

I had students fold a scratch sheet of paper into 6 regions which will later be used for the following:


I then played the clip and asked students to write down the first question that came to their mind. They shared that with a neighbor then we put them up on the board. After each question I asked for a show of hands for anyone who also thought the question was interesting and put + that number at the end. (This helps me focus on the big idea – brain storming – some questions are not very relevant and that is OK.)

Typo… oh well.

Then students estimated how many mini and regular bears it would take and we threw those up on the board too with names attached.


After this students brainstormed what info they needed to answer the question.


Then I gave the info I had to ’em and set them loose to solve the problem.

We put our calculated answers on the board too, not so sure how productive this was. Students really wanted to just get at the answer and it felt like I was making way too many lists. I also went back to the estimates and we looked at who was the closest.

After I talked a little about rates and how it tied into this problem then students named the activity.


Once we wrapped this up I went back to the list of questions and addressed each of them, which brought some great closure to the period.

Day 0

This year I am excited to have my own room. Tomorrow is the first day and Freshman only, which means I will have all but 3 of my students. I spent quite a bit of time this summer setting up my room and wanted to share it out.

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I found the letters online and spray painted them. They have become one of my favorite things ever.
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Problem of the month on the back board and turn-in bins.
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Mullet mug and the money tree my wife insisted I needed (it is really cool). I am trying a pencil experiment this year; if students need a pencil, take one and return it at the end of the period.
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8 Mathematical Practices + poster, math is magical.

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I am really lucky to have a document camera. This year I invested in appleTV so I can work from my iPad in the back of the room.

I am looking forward to a great year and to be blogging about everything that happens.