Algebra Models in Photo Story

danalong's picture
Content Area(s):  
Grade Level(s):  
Oregon Common Core State Standards: 
Lesson Plan Details
1 week
Students will use Photo Story to show models and narrate each step of solving for the value of X in a basic algebra equation. The completed project serves as an instructional video for peers on the steps of solving a particular equation. Students develop clarity and increase their understanding of the steps in solving for X in an equation through creating the models and narrating the process.
Photo Story, headphones and microphone, digital camera, Hands-on-Equations kit or other manipulatives to represent the parts of an algebraic equation.

Prior to instruction, the teacher needs to...

  • Teach the concept of "balance" in an algebraic equation, how to solve for a variable, basic algebra concepts, etc.
  • Model how to use manipulatives as a visual and hands-on way to solve for X.
  • Operation of a digital camera, uploading pictures
  • Show students the basics of using the Photo Story progam

In this lesson, the students will...

This can be done individually or in pairs.

  • Pick an algebra problem from work done in class
  • Use a Hands-on-Equations kit or other set of manipulatives to work through the problem and solve for X.
  • Students then set up the model again from the beginning and photograph the model showing the equation.  Students write a script to describe the problem in their math journals.  For example: "I am working with the problem X+6+12=38.  My job is to solve for X.  To do this I will have to get X by itself on one side of the equation and get all the numbers on the other side."
  • Students then work through the problem step-by-step.  They take a photograph of their model showing each change in the equation such as combining like terms or subtracting the same value from each side of the equation to maintain the balance.  Students continue to write down their explanation of how to do each step and why.
  • When students have taken all their pictures and written all parts of their script they will do a "run through" with at least two peers to help them check their work and find what needs to be corrected, clarified, or added. 
  • After two peer reviews are completed and any nesessary improvements are made students may begin creating the Photo Story.  Students should be sure to save the draft of their Photo Story so that changes can still be made after it is pulbished.
  • Students will show their completed Photo Story to the class (or small group) for suggestions and teacher review.  Peers often suggest removing music from the backgroud to make the presentation easier to hear and ways to improve the narration - this process worked so much better than the time I simply banned music from the background!  Students also comment on what went well and what could be improved in terms of the actual math and explanation of the problem.  More often than not, the teaher does not have to add much to the critique of the work sample if students are used to doing this process together.
  • Students may use their saved drafts to make changes and present and/or post the final work sample.
  • The accuracy of the math and the understanding of the order of each step are demonstrated through the picture and explanation of each step as seen in the Photo Story.
  • The clarifying questions and suggestions made by classmates give insight into the student's ability to communicate clearly (both the math concept and the use of the media)

Note:  I have used this project as a replacement for a unit quiz and found it to be a much more powerful and telling piece of evidence of student understanding than a traditional quiz.

Oregon Educational Technology Standards
Creativity and Innovation: 
1A. Apply existing knowledge to forecast possibilities and generate new ideas, products or processes.
1B. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
1C. Develop or apply models and simulations to explore complex systems, issues and trends.
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making: 
4A. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
4C. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and or make informed decisions.
Digital Citizenship: 
5B. Model and practice a positive attitude toward using digital technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
Technology Operations and Concepts: 
6A. Select, use, and troubleshoot tools efficiently.
6B. Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.
Career Related Learning Standards
Personal Management: 
CR1A. Identify tasks that need to be done and initiate action to complete the tasks.
CR2A. Plan, organize, and complete projects and assigned tasks on time, meeting agreed upon standards of quality.
Problem Solving: 
CR2D. Select and explain a proposed solution and course of action.
CR2E. Develop a plan to implement the selected course of action.
CR3A. Locate, process, and convey information using traditional and technological tools.
CR3C Give and receive feedback in a positive manner.
CR3E. Write instructions, technical reports, and business communications clearly and accurately.
CR3F. Speak clearly, accurately and in a manner appropriate for the intended audience when giving oral instructions, technical reports and business communications.
danalong's picture