Noticing and Wonder in High School (Algebra 2)

Ack! I didn' save one image! However, don't stop reading, okay, you can if you want...

Systems of Linear Equations is a review for Algebra 2 students, and I hope, now that the students ARE Algebra 2 students, they will finally make the connection between the Algebraic solution to the system and its graph.

I started with this slide:
Michelle and Brian Look Fabulous!
from the most recent Woman's Day (how I got that subscription, I will never know, it just appeared one day).

Then I gave them a graph with some (fake) linear data.

The conversation was rich in two ways, the math was great, AND the opportunity to have a conversation with teenagers about health, diet, and exercise was FANTASTIC. Lots of questions about how they lost the weight, they wanted to know how long it took them to weigh their current weights, were they doing any weight training, have they maintained their weights, what kind of help did they have. Why did Michelle lose more weight, is Brian more muscular, how tall are they?

I know the issue can be extremely sensitive and I did notice one "husky" boy shifting in his seat. I emphasized that they didn't gain the weight overnight, so they weren't going to lose it quickly if they were going to maintain healthy weights. I emphasized the portion control, exercise, and cutting empty calories like alcohol (one girl told us how her mom quit drinking and lost 30 lbs!), I did emphasize body types (I have bird bones and 150 lbs would look ridiculous on me, however my daughter has her dad's bones, and 145 looks marvelous on her).

Noticing and wondering turned procedural proficiency (Blech) into something engaging and meaningful. It turns out Andrew Stadel tweeted about Noticing and Wondering in this Blog Post from Max at the Math Forum. I didn't see it until this morning after the fact. After reading the article, I can't wait until Monday!

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  1. Yes, this can be an extremely sensitive issue, but I definitely think the weight "loss" direction is way better than weight "gaining". Thanks for posting.

    1. It was wonderful to have an entry into a more social/emotion topic with students that is a passion of mine. In my next life I will be one of those fitness gurus...

  2. I like that you started with a real magazine article too -- one thing that is really tough about conversations about weight and health is separating out common myths or less helpful ways of talking that are amplified through media from what's actual true. All these conversations are out there already, and having them be part of math class, where we can use quantitative reasoning to ask good questions and have a knowledgeable, trustworthy adult helping separate fact from fiction, is really important! Good find!


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