Friday, April 19, 2013

It Would Have Been More Fun If It Was Figuring Out a Trip for Us: Mr. C, What Is a Real World Scenario Part 2

The students finished figuring out the expenses to my baseball trip in July yesterday. Depending on the price of hotel and tickets it will cost between $1,000 an d$1,100 dollars for a three day trip. Apparently you need to be a major league baseball player to afford going to back to back to back games :(

After the students all shared their totals I asked them if they liked the activity. I had two very interesting responses from two different students. One student asked me if I liked the activity. I told them I really enjoyed their enthusiasm for the project. Another student then told me that she would have liked the assignment more if it had been a trip she wanted to go on. (This is what we in education circles call a teachable moment ;) So we immediately started making plans for a trip they will research.

I gave them some guidelines to help them:

  • The trip would be five days long. We picked a week in July so they wouldn't miss summer school :)
  • I told them they needed to budget $75 a day for food per person.
  • I also had them spend $50 a day on souvenirs. 
I learned a lot in just the first day:
  • Several students planned the trip around a real trip they are going to take later this year.
  • Many students wanted to plan the trip together so they could share the experience (although I don't know if they want to share the actual trip or just the planning.)
  • Most of my students have a very limited view of where they can go on vacation. I had to emphasize many times that they could go anywhere for those five days. Money was not an issue. Most still tried to find bargains with their hotels. 
  • Many of the students wanted to visit relatives that don't live nearby. Isn't that wonderful!
The reality is this has been a great way to get our minds off of test prep for a few days and get them engaged and rejuvenated for math. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mr. C, What Is a Real World Scenario?

"Mr. C, what is a real world scenario?" asked Stephanie. This question yesterday caused me to completely change today's math lesson. Instead of more test prep/review which we have been doing, I decided we needed to do something different.

I have been really excited about baseball this year, probably more excited than I have been in 25 years when the Royals were really good. After reading about the Edutour I checked the baseball schedule at KC to see if the tour stop coincided with a home stand. Yes, that was a random thought but that is how I roll.

I then had the inspiration to see if there were a way to get to meet Nick and Tim and combine that with a couple games. I noticed that the Royals had a home game the day before the pit stop and then I looked at the Cardinals schedule and found they were also playing a home stand at that time. I could do back to back games in different stadiums! Next I checked the Chicago Cubs schedule, but they were playing away at that time but the White Sox had a home stand then too. I could actually pull of three games in three different stadiums in three days!

Of course when I approached my wife with this all she wanted to know was how much it was going to cost. Seriously, I am excited about the stars aligning like a sign from heaven and she just wants to know about the Benjamins! I knew I was going to have to figure out what it would cost to do make the trip. Can you imagine what I decided to do? Yup, I created a real world scenario!

Today in math I told the students about how I wanted to make this trip and I gave them the dates of the games. I told them I wanted them to figure out how much it would cost me to go. I gave them the following data to use:

  • I estimated gas in July at $4 per gallon.
  • I estimated my car's miles per gallon at 25 .
  • I told them I wanted to stay in each city after the game at a hotel.
  • I told them I wanted the hotel to cost no more than $80 a night.
  • I estimated I would spend $100 a day for food.
  • I estimated I would need $70 a game for souvenirs. 
  • I told them I wanted 2 tickets for each game. 
  • I told them I wanted the seats to be on the bottom deck and not way out in the outfield.
We went into the computer lab and they got started. As they worked I gave them advice such as using to find the driving distances between the cities and how I really enjoyed staying at the  hotels in the Choice chain. Not all of them took my advice and I noticed a lot of different online tools being used to get the information they needed. How cool is that?

I spent an hour today running from student to student (ok, I was actually slowly sauntering) helping them pick out good seats, okaying or nixing their choice in hotels, looking at Google Earth images of the different ballparks, and in general answering the small questions that come up with this type of activity. 

Things I noticed during the class:
  • The kids were asking good questions like "Do you want a free breakfast at your hotel?" and "How far away are you willing to stay from the baseball stadium?"
  • The normal loud social buzz that my class seems to thrive on this time was centered around the task. That is a big #eduwin for my students. 
  • A few times I caught myself thinking that my students sounded like professional travel agents.
  • Everyone was engaged and most were really excited. 
  • There are a lot of hotels around the baseball stadiums.