I taught ratios and proportions to my Algebra 1 students very early in the year. Looking back, I think I rushed through this topic too fast. Next year, I will probably double the time I spend on this topic!
During my student teaching in 8th grade, I wrote a Road Trip project for my students to complete. The original project was 3 days long. For my Algebra 1 students, I chose to only do Day 1 of this project.
The task is simple. Given a map of the United States, plan a road trip to visit 5 cities. Using ratios and proportions, calculate the total distance traveled. Students need a copy of the map, worksheet, and a ruler. I wrote more about this project here.
|Road Trip Project|
Since I had already done this project with 8th graders, I thought my Algebra 1 students would be able to whiz right through it. I was wrong. I had to teach many of my students how to read a ruler. Rounding to the nearest quarter inch was a disaster. And, the questions students asked me made me feel more like a geography teacher than a math teacher.
These are actual conversations I had with my Algebra 1 students during this activity.
Me: Class, today we are going on a road trip. If we're going on a road trip, that means we will be traveling on...
Me: Yes, so that means we can't travel to...
Student 1: Why can't you drive to Hawaii?
Me: Hawaii is an island. That means it is surrounded by water.
Student 2: Why does Hawaii look so weird?
Custodian who just happens to be emptying the trash at this point: Hawaii is a series of small islands.
Student 3: Do you mean you can't drive between the little islands?
Custodian: No. When I was in Hawaii, we traveled between the islands by taking ferries.
Student 1: Is Washington, D.C. here? [The student is pointing at Washington state.]
Student 2: No, Washington, D.C. is in Virginia.
Student 1: I think this map is wrong.
Student 1: Oklahoma City should be above Tulsa.
Student 1: Do you mean Nashville, Tennessee is in the United States?
Me: Yes. Nashville is in the U.S.
Student 1: I've heard of it before, but I didn't realize it was in the U.S.
I required my students to write both the city and the state they were visiting on their assignment. One student wrote that she was traveling to New Jersey, PA.