EASy lesson

EASyR Lesson: Linear Equations

<reflection>In 1989 I committed to work in my first middle school program. My team and I were committed to creating a "school within a school" designed to meet the unique needs of the middle school child. My experiences in that first school as well as the three to follow were driven by the initial training received. A fundamental component of that training was teaching middle school students to think critically using Bloom's Taxonomy. As I approached my EASyR lesson, I became entangled with a present day issue. My students were not retaining the information I had recently taught. I asked myself, "Am I paying attention to relevance? Are the students 'wrestling' with the information?" Honestly and obviously, "No!" Action had to be taken, so during the module I created a Bloom's Taxonomy Project for Linear Equations. The project has been distributed and initial work begun. I have noticed an immediate improvement! Students, while investigating the Evaluation level activity, are questioning why countries have so much public debt. I believe we are heading in the right direction.</reflection>

Original Lesson Plan and Learning Guide

The traditional technique for teaching linear equations (e.g. y = 2x - 7) is to make connections between the equation, graph, and data table. Normally the initial equation, graph, or data table provided to students has limited relevance (i.e. the items are random and not related to a real event). 

This approach evolves to include lines with zero slope (e.g. y = 5) and undefined slope (e.g. x = -4) as well as examining pairs of equations which map parallel lines and perpendicular lines respectively. Instruction related to linear equations in Geometry is normally proceeded by a review of slope and content presented in Algebra 1. A common problem I face is low retention of prior learning on linear equations. Hence, I am forced to evaluate the skill level of my current students, then review and remediate as needed. Here is the learning guide I used for Linear Equations during SY 2012-2013. Learning Goals and Outcomes as well as links to the Common Core Standards are shown on the learning guide.


EASyR Improvements

The learning guide provided will be modified to include a <edit>Bloom's Taxonomy Project on Linear Equations (see relevant parts below) I edited the name of the project for clarity purposes as well as displayed the key parts of the project below. I chose to present the EASyR lesson in this manner to keep the focus on the student actions relevant to higher level thinking.</edit>. Regarding the Bloom's Taxonomy Project format shown, I have chosen to maintain the same format used earlier in the Geometry course for the Transformations and Similarity module. 



1) Note the connection in the Synthesis activity to work done on the Transformation and Similarity project. The preimage was a picture created by connecting points on the coordinate graph (e.g. a fish, rocket, animal, etc.).  Students can recreate their picture using linear equations or create a new picture. 

2) In the Evaluation activity, students will use the Internet to search for relevant financial debt (or profit) data for to the country they are assigned. Students will make a judgement as to whether the data is valid.

3) Students will analyze the data using a scatter plot and determine the equation for the line of best fit. 

4) Further analysis will occur when the students make debt (or profit) predictions for their country for 2017 (estimated graduation date from high school), 2021 (estimated graduation date from college), and 2040 (estimated date for turning 40 years old). The dates correlate to three significant events in the life of a person born in the United States.

5) Students will evaluate the predicted financial future of their assigned country and create a scenario of what may occur in the country as a result of those predictions.

6) Students will include a MLA citation for the source of the financial data used. This is included in this project for two reasons: a) the Language Arts department at my school are emphasizing MLA citations as part of the school's Continuous School Improvement plan and b) I want to be able to verify the financial data students used.


f2f and Online Relevance

I created the Linear Equations Bloom's Taxonomy Project last week as a result of our focus on Critical Thinking in the Collaborative Communities course. This project is being used in real time and can modified for an online course. Students could easily submit work via Dropbox as well as collaborate within Google Drive. Since images used and countries assigned will be unique, students can work together and support one another as they produce their own version of the project. 


Critical Thinking Relevance

Traditionally, students learn about linear equations in a "vacuum". Equations used in textbooks and in class discussions are normally neat and tidy. In using the Bloom's Taxonomy Project described, specifically the events in the Evaluation activity, I have attempted to create a scenario where students will have evaluate, analyze, and synthesize their understand of linear equations using real world data. By asking them to make predictions, review their work, and then write a description of what may happen in their country, I have clearly put them in a situation that requires critical thinking.


Authenticity

I am addressing a concern related to a lack of critical thinking within most of the students in my current classes. I realize I might be walking a fine line with my organization of this task, but I needed to fix something currently occurring with my students. This assignment and the recent work in Collaborative Communities provided the opportunity I needed. Thank you.