
The Number of Days Used
submitted by: Suzanne Alejandre

Course: Math 7  
Resource type: Lesson Plan  
Catalogue entry: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/lesson.html?&new_id=11 

Resource location: http://mathforum.org/alejandre/frisbie/jam.html 

Story:  
Because I was both the computer teacher and one of the math teachers, my assigned classroom was a computer lab. I usually taught one or two math classes each year from 1995 through 2000 in the computer lab, although, some days a teacher would trade classrooms with me. Here's a story of how I used the Traffic Jam Lesson Plan with my 7th grade math students. I started the activity in the lab (but I would have preferred to have been in a classroom) but the students didn't use the computers. We read the problem aloud from the textbook; the students had the baskets and plastic people and they interacted with them. At the end of that period I was going to have the students interact with the applet but I ran into a java glitch (because of the age of the computers in my room) and we did something else instead the last ten minutes of class. The second day we were in the classroom (and not the lab) and I displayed the applet on the screen (using a video projector). One student interacted as the other students watched or gave suggestions and we started looking at the pattern. (This was not the only task that day but that is the only part of what we did on Traffic Jam.) (There were some days in between here when we did something else.) The third day (I had fixed the computer glitch) we reviewed the problem and then went to the Java applet. We started discussing the problem putting the chart on the whiteboard and looking at the pattern. The fourth day we were in the classroom again and this time we reviewed all of the information and worked through the pattern and the algebraic expression, etc. The fifth day the students took a quiz. The sixth day the students practiced in groups to perform the activity with their bodies and near the end of the period I videotaped the results. So, in all I spent six days, although not consecutive, on this activity with my students. I've also done similar activities where I introduce the idea but don't come back to it for awhile so that it might be a month before we have the culminating activity. With rich activities like this where you are building from an interactive experience to an algebraic representation, I think it is actually more interesting to do the activity over a longer period of time. 
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