Saturday, October 20, 2012

CSI: Algebra -- the Complete eBook

The best mathematical eBook with funny
pictures published in the last 6 months.

Nothing like a good criminal investigation to liven up number sense!

CSI: Algebra -- the Complete eBook is a collection of nine different algebraically inspired mathematical puzzles with a little international pizazz. The nine puzzles intend to target specific Algebra 1 units and add a little flair to the ordinary challenge question. 

Name: CSI: Algebra the Complete eBook
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra I and Algebra II math skills)
Math Concepts: Algebra 1 content (listed below)
Interdisciplinary Connections: Too many to list
Teaching Duration: 27-45 Days (or there ‘bouts)
Cost: $25 for an eBook with 9 separate CSI themed puzzles 

I know which butts need kissed
and how hard to kiss them.
The Product: Student conduct an investigation to determine who the criminal is in each case. Teachers have an option of having student present their evidence in front of a jury of their peers.

So I didn’t get a summer school job. Apparently this a political-butt-kiss-person-and-then-butt-kiss-this-other-person type of thing. I am totally above kissing two butts! One I’ll do… but two?! That’s just outrageous. Nevertheless, I realized it was my opportunity to confront the largest elephant waiting in my closet – finishing my CSI eBook. I had three of these puzzles under my belt. My students really dug them. Teachers who bought them really dug them.

They’d say things like:

“Love the activity !!!! Keep up the great work!

“My students love the format of these lessons. Thank you

“I think you're my favorite ever. These are fantastic!

But here’s the problem, they are super-duper time consuming to make. I pick a chapter of topics from a textbook, find a world region that fits the themes from that chapter, research that world region for interesting authentic problem, create cool, interesting authentic problems (and my soul doesn’t allow me to duplicate problem types! They all have to be different), the puzzles have to solve to a cryptic text message, I have to draw funny faces and necessary sketches and then I have to write attempt-at-an-amusing criminal narrative to tie it all together and add swagg. BAAAAH!
Don't you have better things to do?
(Answer --Apparently not).

So there I was with a choice. To be or not to be. Nonetheless, I did it. And honestly, they kept getting cooler and cooler. So then the super anal part of me had to go back to my original 3 and fix them up to equal the cool factor of my new 6.

I mapped the puzzles to the curriculum in the widely used Glencoe Algebra 1, although in my experience most Algebra 1 books line up pretty much the same. The way these projects work is that each puzzle has 6 “scenes” which will uncover a mystery variable. These six mystery variables will be used to decode a cryptic text message and if everything is correct, the result will match one of the six suspects.

Meh... I thought they were aight. A little
hard though...
Based on the experience in my own classroom, students are actively engaged in the puzzle solving element in my CSI assignments. Top students brighten up because it is “something different” and hard to motivate students will pick the pencil to give it a crack. These assignments are designed to be “math-first” projects. By that I mean, the Algebra 1 skill is explicitly what the students are doing, the rest works as window dressing. In my career, I’ve found most math projects I’ve attempted from books are typically not mathematically rigorous enough and the math concept I intended to teach was lost. In my experience, students will complete interesting assignments and I’ve put a lot of sweat into making each of these puzzles interesting and fun.

Depending on the puzzle, you’ll find that some of the problems are hard. Some puzzles may depend on students doing 5-6 problems correct in a row. Lots of word problems. By design, I use a variety of levels of problems to keep a variety of learners engaged and challenged. If you use any of these assignments I strongly such that you help and hint, as you desire.

In this product you will receive ALL NINE different puzzles. I have created these puzzles to map the curriculum to nine different chapters of most Algebra 1 textbooks.

Unit 1 (Australia): Order of Operations, Translating Verbal and Algebraic Expressions, Open Sentences, Distributing, Combining Like Terms 

Unit 2 (Latin America): Square root approximation, Decimal-fraction-percent conversion, Scientific Notation, The Real Number System, Perfect Squares 

Unit 3 (Middle East): Translating Verbal & Algebraic Equations, Solving different equation types, Using Formulas 

Unit 4 (Europe): Coordinate Planes, Domain & Range, Inverses, Patterns & Arithmetic Sequences 

Unit 5 (China): Slope & Rates of Change, Calculating, graphing and interpreting lines, Parallel and Perpendicular lines 

Unit 6 (Scandinavia): Solving & Graphing Inequalities, Compound Inequalities, Solving Absolute Value Equations 

Unit 7 (Africa): Solving Systems with Elimination, Substitution and Graphing, Graphing Systems of Inequalities 

Unit 8 (Japan): Operations on Monomials, Operations with Polynomials, Scientific Notation 

Unit 9 (United States): Factoring (GCF, Distributive Property, trinomials), Quadratic Formula, Graphing and interpreting parabolic graphs 

If you are teaching Algebra 1 and are looking for fun review activities and enrichment problems, I have you covered. Student Satisfaction Guaranteed or I'll give you your money back. 

I have used these puzzles with much success with a variety of students. My own Algebra 1 classes. Enrichment for advanced students. Review for state graduation exams. The puzzle solving hook engages many different students in solving traditionally mundane problems. Be the cool teacher :-)


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