Monthly Archives: February 2015

My Version of Sarah Hagan’s Road Trip Project

While studying proportions, I wanted to give my students a real-world application, as well as, a fun activity.  I thought that Day One of  Sarah Hagan’s Pre-Algebra Road Trip Project fit the bill perfectly.  It allowed each student to make choices on which five cities they wanted to visit and it gave them practice in solving proportions using a scale.

As an introduction to the project, we watched this YouTube video explaining the project.  The teacher in the video did a great job covering the technical aspects of the project.  I think my students listened more intently to the teacher in the video than if I stood up in front of the class and explained it.

Since I wanted students to be able to work independently and for them to read instructions without constantly raising their hand to ask me what else they needed to do, I made a step-by-step instructions sheet to go with the project.

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For easier grading purposes, I wanted all of the work to be done on one sheet, so I combined some of the steps and came up with this handout.  However, if the work space was not big enough, I allowed students to complete their work on a separate piece of lined paper.

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I’m not sure if I am alone on this, but I have a hard time grading solely using a rubric.  It just seems so harsh.  And I don’t know what to do with some of the miscellaneous items that I feel are important, but don’t seem to fit in one of the categories.  So, I improvised and put a few such categories at the bottom of the rubric that I felt were valuable, but only worth a point or two.

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Finally,  I wanted students to realize that because they were drawing straight lines between cities and not using actual roads to come up with the distances, their total mileage would probably not be an accurate measurement of their road trip.  As a result, I thought it would be fun for students to go on the Internet and find the actual mileage their road trip would be and then find the difference between the two mileage amounts.

I have done this for two years now and both times I was amazed at how many student forget how to use a ruler, how to estimate to the nearest quarter of an inch, how to multiply with decimals or fractions (even though we covered both of these concepts already), and how to find the difference between two numbers (subtract, not add).  It’s as if students put each unit that we’ve covered in a separate box and close the lid when the chapter test is completed.  Keeping that information available to use at any given moment is a challenge.  It reminded me that spiral review like this is so important!

Overall, I loved this project!  Thank you, Sarah Hagan!!

Sugar Packets and Proportions Activity

I’m always thinking of how to change the class up a bit so that students stay engaged.


Our school just purchased high tables and stools for the middle hallway.  I “borrowed” them, put only two stools at each table, and let the students pick who their partner would be.  It’s amazing that this small change in the classroom setting brought a lot of excitement.  It was a great setting for this activity.

After reviewing proportions, I showed them Act One of  Dan Meyer’s Three-Act Sugar Packet video.  Since my students love Estimation 180, I had them give an answer that was too high, an answer that was too low, and their guess.  Next, I asked students what information they would need to solve the problem.  The students realized that they needed to know how much sugar is in each packet (4 g) and how much sugar is in the soda bottle (65 g).  I provided the pictures of the nutrition labels for the soda bottle and the sugar packet (Act Two).  I had students set up proportions to solve for the correct number of packets.  Then, I showed the un-edited video (Act Three).

After the video reveal, I used a part of Sarah Hagan’s idea to extend this activity.  I took out 6 – 8 bottles of different beverages.  Each group picked one bottle to start out with.  Using proportions, students had to calculate the number of sugar packets in three different beverages.


I made a handout for the students to work on.  They had to put the name of the beverage on the top of the bottle, the proportion with their work in the middle of the bottle, and the answer with a label at the bottom of the bottle.  Afterwards, students cut out the handout and glued it into their interactive notebook.

Overall, students were engaged for the entire period.  They enjoyed being able pick their seat and partner, and they liked an activity that uses a real-world situation with something they can relate to. What teenager does not drink soda or juice?  Next year, if it falls on a longer period, I want to use some of Sarah Hagan’s other ideas of ranking the beverages from least to greatest according to their sugar content and creating a graph of the data.  So many great ideas, so little time!