Reflection: Student Ownership Garden Design - Section 2: Exploration


This year, this lesson was too abstract for my students, so I modified it quite a bit. I decided instead to give them a similar, but more realistic context and a more open ended question. I also wanted to give them more autonomy. I find that my students really respond enthusiastically to the task when they are asked to make a decision about something. 

I gave them the dimensions of the entire  garden plot (5 ft. by 8ft). I told them we needed to plant it in four sections for peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and a section for herbs. I asked them to work together to find the best way to plant our garden. 

I know that my students have varied experience with gardens. Some are from farming families, some have garden plots at home or went to an elementary school that had one, and some have no experience.

The conversations were amazing and my students did more math than they did in the original problem, because they kept changing their minds.

At first many of my students were trying to make the sections as equal as possible. Then some students pointed out that the herb section didn't need as much space as the tomatoes. Other students said they didn't like eggplant and decided to scrap the rules and plant 2 sections of tomatoes, which was the original problem.

After students decided how to design their garden I asked them to show some math to prove that their garden sections fill the plot exactly. This is where the teacher can draw attention to the distributive property. No matter how creative their sectioning was, the distributive property could be found.

  Student Ownership: Giving the students more autonomy
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Garden Design

Unit 3: Equivalent Expressions
Lesson 12 of 23

Objective: SWBAT use the area model to write two equivalent expressions using the distributive property.

Big Idea: Students will understand the form behind the distributive property and transition from the physical model to the mathematical model.

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1 teacher likes this lesson
Math, Expressions (Algebra), distributive property, area model
  54 minutes
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