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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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