As promised in the previous lesson, this class opens by giving the students the opportunity to clean up any lose ends of their work before they share out their results. Although the “presentations” will be relatively informal, it is important that the students have the opportunity to organize and wrap up their thoughts, focusing on their approach to the problem. To meet each groups needs, I provide them with a giant sticky note (these are a GREAT purchase for your classroom – poster sized sticky notes that the kids LOVE to share results on). On this sticky note, I encourage the kids to illustrate their method of approach to the problem. Did they start with a diagram? Where did they turn to find any variables that they did not know? What mathematics did they implement? Is there anything innovative about their approach?
If this is your first time using the giant sticky notes, or similar, encourage the kids to focus on highlighting the flow of their problem, NOT on fancy decorations and coloring. I provide my students with only one color marker and time the activity to make sure that they focus on conveying their ideas instead of decorating and constructing a fancy poster – there is occasionally a time for that but it is NOT the focus of this activity (you may need to explain this to a few of your students – you know who they are!).
After concluding the small group share out, I bring the class back together to discuss what they noticed. I encourage you to merely facilitate the discussion, rather than lecture to the students. Drawing out of them the following questions can be a great starting point:
1) What did you notice about the solutions presented? About what was the range in values?
2) Did any group in particular appear to excel at the problem solving process? What elements made them successful?
3) Where there any unique approaches that stood apart in your group? What made them unique?
Once the students have started down these rabbit trails, allow them to run with it and discuss! I feel free to engage students by asking them their opinions in a non-threatening way. This can be done though saying “Tommy, I saw you involved in a discussion with your group. What did you notice?”
Be sure to write key points from the activity down so that you can reference them in later lessons. I also like to wrap up the discussion by asking the students what 21st century skills were needed in working on the problem. This is a great way to get the students to buy into the authenticity of the task, even though everyone knows that it is fictional.
Homework: As a possible homework assignment, I challenge the students to see if they can model the Mission Impossible problem (Entry Document #1) as a system on grid paper using the information that they came up with. In my previous experience, relatively few students elected to try this approach. This assignment will help stretch the students to ask, why? Can you solve the problem this way? What are the pro’s and con’s? Where is the solution located? Do we obtain the same answer as before? These are excellent ways to teach A.REI.11. The students should recognize that the two equations are linear and be able to solve them graphically (MP5). The problem can indeed be solved this way as a function of time because the students have the distances (a point) and the rates (the slope). I do not assign this every single year, and only when time allows for it at the end of class. It takes a little explaining the following day, but is a worthwhile review of linear equations from Algebra I.