Engaging Students

As a warm-up activity, Georgine reads the poem, “Nature Knows Its Math” (Graham, 1997). While she reads it in English, the students repeat each line. She switches to Spanish whenever necessary to help students understand. She proceeds by asking the question, “What is the poem about?” Students call out, “Adding! Animals! Grass! Snow! Rain!” Georgine says, “Well, all of those words are mentioned in the poem, but two of them relate to each other and to other words found in the poem. Can you find them and the connection?” Miguel volunteers, “The weather. Like snow and rain.” “Good. Can you find other words that connect to the weather in the poem?” she continues. When no one volunteers, Georgine reminds them of the Spanish term brisas and tells them to try to find it in the poem. Students do so easily, and she then says, “Now find the math terms in this poem and explain what each means. Students quickly call them out and explain, for example, that subtract means to take away.

She then tells the students, “Today we will review a type of graph called bar graphs. How many of you remember making bar graphs last year?” (A few hands are raised.) “Well, we will refresh memories and see how much you remember as we create such graphs to shed light on important health information.”

Georgine tells the students to take out the homework requiring a tally of the number of family members’ or friends’ preferences for three different Taco Bell foods: tacos, chalupas, and burritos. She adds, “There were two questions I wanted you to answer as part of your homework. The first is which one they like best, and the second is which of the foods do you think is the healthiest. Allan, tell us where you are from and how many people liked tacos in your house.”

Allan: I am from Honduras, and we all preferred tacos—ten of us.

Georgine: How many of you are from Honduras? (Six students raise their hands.) Did most of your relatives prefer tacos too? (The students nod in agreement.) Lionel, where are you from, and what were your results?

Lionel: I am from Argentina, and my family liked burritos.

Jeffrey: In Puerto Rico they eat all three, so my house had some people for each.

Georgine: Now I’d like to collect your results in a table so that we can keep a tally for all to see.

After creating a table, Georgine tells students to record and keep the table because the homework will be to compare the responses with a bar graph.

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