Teaching Algebra 1 was surely a highlight of my career as a math educator. While most non math speaking adults may cringe at the idea of loving all things algebra, I would challenge you to spend a single day with me and leave without feeling the same sense of glee! For me, the best part of Algebra 1 was the insane amount of math stories that could be told through each lesson. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a single idea in Algebra that does NOT relate to real life as we live it!
Today, I was reminded of one of my favorite tools, Google Story Builder. With google story builder, users can create a “story” with characters, dialogue and music. In essence, what you are creating is a conversation. The power of conversations in math is astounding. From conversations, students develop meaning and also develop ideas as to how those meanings apply. It’s a natural progression of being engaged in deep thought.
For my story, The House Painting Business, two characters are discussing how much money they will make painting houses. There is a reference to several concepts related to linear equations. I’ve found that when students associate math concepts with situations that are real to them, they tend to “get it” much better. For example, as students work on the problem presented in the story, I would toss in questions related to rates of change. We would define where that change happens in the story, “word problem”, in the chart that they create and in the graph that they form. Students start their exposure to the y-intercept as the “start-up” cost or Beginning cost, which is the consultation fee. I’ve had students compare this idea to how health clubs are setup…registration + monthly fee. Then, we talk independent and dependent variables…domain and range…meaning of intercepts…and connect rate of change to slope and all of its forms in every representation.
In my story, I referenced several Google tools that students can use. This would apply if students have either 1:1 or preferably collaborative access to devices. You want something like this to be a collaborative activity. Students could utilize their tools to develop the plan represented in the story, solve problems and write problems as well. I would even extend this to having students create their own collaborative story and publish it along with the final presentation.
To me, this is where technology enhances the curriculum. It’s used to support and enhance, which is what it should be at all times.
The beginning is ALWAYS a story. The end result goes where students travel and if we are lucky, never ends. See my story below…