Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Minds of Urban Youth

In Algebra we're working on multiple representations of linear equations and the kids are nearing the end of the unit, so they're pretty skilled with it. Most can go from any representation (graph, t-table, equation, or situation) to any other without any steps in between. I'm very proud of them.

Today they were working on a team challenge where part of the question was to come up with a situation that could be described by graph/t-table/equation they already had found. One group got the first part of the problem pretty easily, but got completely stuck when they were trying to make up a situation. I talked to them about what we mean by situation (real-life example) and reminded them of the situations we've been looking at over the past few days (mostly bank accounts that earn or lose money). They were still stuck, I think because they were trying to figure out what the negative x-values could mean in a real-life situation.

Then a lightbulb went off in Y.'s head. "I've got it! Chickens!" Her teammates looked as confused as I was until she continued, "A chicken lays four eggs every day and..." the other students seemed like it had suddenly clicked for them too. So I walked away. The situation they came up with definitely made worked, but really egg-laying chickens was the first thing they came up with? If this is what's on the minds of urban youth, I feel like I should throw out everything I've ever thought about culturally relevant pedagogy.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

At least they'll keep you on your toes.

Linda said...

Having chickens is legal in Berkley(and maybe in Ann Arbor, though I did not follow that argument very carefully when it was in the news a few months ago). Maybe the kids are just planning a future life with aging hippies.

My down-on-the-farm friends would be pleased to hear their ties to agri-business. Of course, when I was only the farmer's daughter, folks were still complaining that they had taken units on stacking hay out of the curriculum.

Maybe it is eaiser to think of things that are not quite in your real realm of knowledge. Money and banking is too real for us all these days, whereas, chickens are still a little surreal for your kids.

Jaya said...

I'm trying to convince some of my urban friends to raise chickens. Perhaps Roxbury has a slightly different terroir from Somerville?