Lesson: Applying Equations to History/Culture

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Lesson Objective

Students learn some basic facts about Andalusia and the intersection between Arab and Spanish culture. Students apply equations to given real-life word problems. Students translate from English expressions to numerical equations.

Lesson Plan

 I created this activity for my low-level students, all of whom are low in reading, most of whom are CELDT 1-3. It is modeled on the amazing activities contained in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Activities-Cultures-Beatrice-Lumpkin/dp/0825132843/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262304474&sr=1-1, which I own and love. It is difficult for my low-level students to do most of the activities, however, since they are at a Pre-Algebra level. The equations activities are interesting, but far too hard for my students. I created this as an alternative. It contains no fractions or decimals and is an exercise in reading a story problem, converting it to a one-step equation, and solving the equation.

I chose the historical topic of Andalusia (Andalucia in Spanish, Al-Andalus in Arabic) because my students are majority Latino and I have Yemeni students. They are curious about each other's cultures, and they generally have an astonishing dearth of historical and geographical knowledge. They enjoy having non-Math elements to the work we do in Math.

This is meant as a culminating activity, once students have experience with translating words to equations, and once they know how to solve and evaluate one and two step equations. This is intended as a group project, my class has groups of 3-4 students. The reading is at their comfort level, and it is intended to be read aloud. 

Anticipatory Set: display page 4 of the activity on the overhead. Ask the prior knowledge questions and jot down key words from reasonable responses. Students like to be able to imagine the people in the cultures we are discussing, so I always display pictures of people. 

Input: distribute pages 1-3 of the activity to each student. Tell them that we know that sometimes groups of people take over other groups of people. Today we are going to learn about a time when this happened, and it actually turned out to be a very good thing in some ways. 

Select a weak reader to read aloud the first paragraph. Pause and let students search globe(s) for Spain. If they are quick, let them compare its location to their own. Ask which countries are right next to Spain on each side. 

Ask stronger readers to read aloud subsequent paragraphs and give students a chance to observe the accompanying pictures. 

Ask stronger reader to read directions aloud, and another student to restate directions. Ask another student to read first question aloud. 

Guided Practice: Depending on students' levels, teacher may model/work along with whole class on first and/or second question, in all or part of the translation to equations, solving of equations, and evaluation (check by substitution) of student responses. Students will likely need graph paper/scratch paper for more room for calculations. 

Group Work: Students work in groups to read questions aloud, create representative equations, solve equations and, time-permitting, check their answers by substitutions. All members should agree on an answer before they each write it down.

If students are not cooperative in groups, one copy of the project can be given to the groups and students can take turns being in "charge" of problems. The first problem on the second page is one of the easiest, so the weakest student could be "set up" to fall in charge of this problem. 

Depending on students' levels and the rigor demanded by the teacher, students may complete problems in one or two class periods. 

Assessment: students can use substitution to check own answers, or groups can check each other's packets, or teacher can do checking with whole class. 

Closure: Teacher may open to discussion/questions about this math or Andalucia. 

I always assign a written "reflection" at the end of a lesson. For this I would ask each to respond in writing (I allow this in English or native languages, which I can read)
a. why is Andalucia important/special in History?  (mix of cultures, peaceful coexistence, beginning of state of Spain, increase in education, etc)
b. what good things happened in Andalucia because of the Muslim kings who took over?  (education, sophistication of culture, interchange of languages, period of peace, period of advancement, religious interaction, population changes, etc)
c. What questions/wonders do you have about Andalucia?

Lesson Resources

Andalucia project   Activity


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