Q&A #291

Motivating interest in introductory algebra

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From: Bill Gibson
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: Mar 25, 1998 at 20:09:24
Subject: Motivating interest in introductory algebra

I am currently teaching an introductory level algebra class to students in predominantly in 9th grade but also have some upperclassmen. These students are generally unmotivated and lacking in basic skills. I would like to involve them in a long term (3-6 weeks) project in which they can uncover some basic algebra concepts (simple equation-solving and graphing of linear equations). My concern is that they will not be interested in contrived and unrealistic projects. I have had some success with projects which involve building construction (e.g., estimating a roof for shingling) but am unable to figure out how to get more algebra into it. I would also like to try different ideas that don't involve construction. We are located in a rural part of West Virginia with a student body of about 1100. The primary employers in this area are mines, contractors, manufacturing, and some research organizations (research/teaching hospital, CDC facility, NASA facility, University); however, most of these students, at least at this time, are planning on no schooling after high school. I would like to build their motivation AND address the goals and objectives of the curriculum. Any help I can receive would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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