Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsIs simpler always better? Students evaluate expressions with variables to compare the reading levels of famous speeches in American history and debate the virtues of complexity vs. popularity.

What’s the best way to use Instagram? Students use histograms, linear regressions, and r-squared values to debate the most effective strategies to gain Insta-fame...and the consequences of always having to smile for the camera.

How is the homeless population changing around the country? Students write linear equations to model the homeless populations in New York City and Los Angeles and discuss what they can do to aid people experiencing homelessness in their communities.

What’s the best strategy for cutting down trees? Students use cylinder volume to determine how the amount of wood in a tree changes as it grows and discuss how communities around the world can harvest (or not harvest) wood in a sustainable way.

Why are so many Americans dying from opiate overdoses? Students use exponential decay and rational functions to understand why addicted patients seek more and stronger opioids to alleviate their pain. Students discuss the role that various parties played in creating the crisis and ways they can help to solve it.

How do municipal fines affect people with different incomes? Students write, solve, and graph systems of linear equations to determine how long it takes to pay off a ticket and debate the fairest ways for cities to raise revenues without harming their poorest residents.

How accurate should government surveillance be? Students calculate conditional probabilities to determine the likelihood of false-positives and false-negatives, and discuss the tradeoffs between safety and accuracy.

Should the government increase the minimum wage? Students use systems of linear equations to explore the relationship between wage and labor, analyze the economics of fast-food restaurants, and debate whether the federal government should increase the minimum wage.

How many different shoes can you design on NIKEiD? Students use tree diagrams to determine the total number of design combinations that are possible on NikeID and discuss the psychological impact of having billions of options to choose from.

How should Arlington National Cemetery plan for its future? Students write and solve linear equations to estimate when Arlington National Cemetery will reach capacity, evaluate various proposals to prolong its lifespan, and debate the best way for Arlington to honor soldiers and their families.

Do social networks like Facebook make us more connected? Students create a quadratic function to model the number of possible connections as a network grows, and consider the consequences of relying on Facebook for news and information.

Is there evidence of racial bias in death penalty sentencing? Students analyze almost thirty years’ worth of data summarized in frequency tables and discuss whether they see evidence of racial bias in who receives the death penalty and who doesn’t.

Should Major League Baseball stadiums be standardized? Students use a quadratic function to model the trajectory of the average professional home run and debate whether Major League Baseball stadiums should all be designed the same.

What’s the best size of disposable water bottle? Students use the volume and surface area of cylinders to compare disposable water bottles and consider environmentally-friendly ways to stay hydrated.

How have temperatures changed around the world? Students use periodic functions to compare long-term average monthly temperatures to recorded monthly temperatures, evaluate evidence of climate change, and discuss possible consequences.