Bay of Fundy: A Tidal Investigation

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SWBAT model the Bay of Fundy's tide cycles using trigonometric functions.

Big Idea

Mathematically model the Bay of Fundy and is tidal wonders!

Roll Out

10 minutes

As the students enter, I direct them to the Bay of Fundy Tourism Site which I post on our course webpage agenda.  As the students click the link, they will begin surfing the website, likely fascinated by the changes in tide at the popular tourist destination.  For as much as 5 minutes I allow the students to surf around and begin initiating conversations with them about what they are seeing.  My conversations start on an individual level, and quickly transition into a whole class discussion.  It is kind of like throwing matches into a pile of straw... after a short time the conversations all overlap into a glowing blaze!  Perhaps a student or two has even been to the Bay of Fundy before, and has a real experience to contribute to the discussion.

After I have the class hooked, (excuse the fishing boat pun), I begin asking them how this type of tidal behavior could be modeled by a periodic function that we have studied.  I even ask kids to come to the board and diagram what they are talking about.  When the students are trying to tell me in words, I act as if I do not understand.  This is yet another way to have the students construct their reasoning (MP3) in multiple representations.  It is easy as a teacher to take a student response and shape it into what we want to hear instead of probing them to explain further.

Following the conclusion of this introductory conversation, I display the Bay of Fundy Entry Slide to the students and ask them to read it silently by themselves.  After a couple of minutes, I then read it out loud to them.




10 minutes

For this particular activity, I run a modified version of my  Know's/N2K's Protocol.  The  modifications are:

1)  The students will not need to complete their own list.  Instead, we will do it on the board together.  However, I do ask for a student volunteer to record the list that the class generates. In doing so, I also intentionally take this student's vacated seat in the classroom to make sure that I am not grabbing the reigns of the process.   

2)  I run the process in a way that illustrates to the students defining their variables precisely is important (MP6).  For example, if tide level is defined as a function of time, time must be explicitly defined as time after high tide OR time after low tide  The students will inevitably begin talking about functions, however, they often over look this fact.  If the students do recognize this important concept, make a HUGE deal out of it and celebrate!  They have truly taken ownership over the math practice standards and a year's worth of preparation is paying off!  Details matter!   If the students do not recognize the importance of properly defining the variables, I will prompt them by asking follow up questions like "How do we know where to start the graph?"  and "Does it matter where we begin time on our graph?"


Problem Work Time

20 minutes

Exit Slip

5 minutes

To conclude class, I provide the students with this exit slip.  The two questions given in TRUE/FALSE format, which requires the students to read carefully and think critically.  Although the content is nothing new, the questions are posed in a way that the students have not yet seen. 

In regards to the Bay of Fundy investigation activity, I ask the students to be sure to have their results completed by tomorrow's class period (MP4).  We will share out our results in a small group setting tomorrow.  As always, I remind the students that they can see me before or after school, or in homeroom, with questions about their work.