Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bear hunting Algebra

I am finding myself more of a shameless shill for mathematics in my 8th grade Algebra class. Want me to jump around like an idiot? I will do it. Want me to make a snowball and bring it in to the classroom? Good as done. So you can see I am interested doing anything that will meet my students where they are...

One more crazy thing I have been doing is trying to connect the kids books I read to my math class. And I think I found out one that actually worked a little bit. It is Going on a Bear Hunt...

You may the know story, you may have been to camp, you may have never heard of it, which may mean that you have never had a child, been to any place where teenagers are asked to supervise young children. If that is you click here to get a sense of what it means to go on a bear hunt.

I use this to remind/reinforce the idea about doing and undoing to solve an algebraic equation. So with the equation:


I say we are going on bear hunt we are going catch a big one we are not scared. Oh no a times 3!. Can't go over it can't go under it... Oh no a plus 1, etc. And then I said a 10! AAAAAAHHHHHH! Back through the 1 (minus 1), back through the 3 (divide by three). These are the steps (minus 1 and divide by 3) that you need to solve the problem.

Now as many of surely know, much of this is not "necessary", but my students need the background of reading through the problem the first time to understand the order of operations. In fact, many of my students still don't understand that the 3x cannot be undone by subtracting 3.

I hope that this helps them see not only what to do, but why they are doing it.

At the very least I am exposing them to classic literature, well literature, well words.

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