Mission Impossible: Roll Out

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SWBAT represent the flights of two military aircraft visually (diagrams) and algebraically (expressions and equations). SWBAT collaborate and problem solve effectively.

Big Idea

A review of D=rt and systems of equations - "Mission success criteria: When do the aircrafts depart?"

Roll Out Entry Document and Pairs

10 minutes

Know’s/N2K’s - - Contracts if Appropriate

15 minutes

See strategies folder video narrative for Know/N2K protocol.  This important process is vital for teaching complex problem solving skills!  After allowing all partners to construct their own Knows/N2K’s, create a class generated list to be certain that everyone is on the same page. 

Contracts:  If you feel collaboration might become an issue in your class, or you simply would like to make sure that you promote and teach good collaboration skills in your classroom, you may wish to have the students write contracts.  These contracts written by the students explicitly state group expectations and responsibilities.  Including clauses for attendance and homework completion can add an element of peer accountability that is hard to beat!

Circulate the Rubric

5 minutes

Circulate the rubric to see what N2K’s can be crossed off by reading it.  If logistical N2K’s remain, answer appropriate ones as needed.  HOWEVER, DO NOT ANSWER N2K’s THAT ARISE FROM THE MATHEMATICS IN THE PROBLEM!  This takes away from the challenge of the problem that is meant to be an introduction for the students when it comes to problem solving and mathematical modeling. (MP1, MP4)

 I like to use the rubric because is keeps the students accountable for really understanding the problem, and demonstrating this understanding to me through a wide variety of learning outcomes (MP1).

A few things to look for in this problem:

  • The students must research the flight speeds of the two aircraft.  There will be unique approaches and answers!
  • Watch for students in an "unproductive struggle" - we want for them to wrestle with the complexity of the problem, without being totally stuck in the mud.

Homework and Work Time

15 minutes


Today has been about the problem solving process.  As an introduction to the mathematics, and to determine my students' proficiency I assign Homework Workshop #1 due the next day.  I encourage the students to continue the Mission Impossible problem until they hit a stopping point (???)  for the day.  Many students will be drawing diagrams or looking up the speed of the aircraft online – a necessary component to solving the problem! 

The homework assignment is meant to see just how comfortable students are with problem solving, and what processes they use for attacking a problem. I am looking for examples of higher level of thinking.  It is likely they will have questions on the following day.  I emphasize the problem solving and thinking PROCESS, not the answers.  For example, question 3 does not include enough information to completely solve the problem.

Note:  It is important NOT to provide the students with the speed of the aircraft, even if they ask.  When my students come to me saying they need more information to solve the problem (or we list it as a class N2K) I reply with a question of my own:  Where can you find this information?  I students to know that problems often do not have all the details provided.  This develops MP1 and MP5 skills by encouraging students to consult reliable sources and/or learn about elements of the problem needed support the mathematical problem solving.  Possible sources for aricraft speed are: Wikipedia, consulting family members in the Air Force, contacting a local Air Base.  If your students are unaccustomed to doing this kind of research you might need to explain (likely more than once) that it is okay for answers to vary.  This creates a great platform for discussion at the end of the problem! (MP3)