Building equations every day builds fluency with operations. Discussing the date in history builds cultural literacy. For the world’s best bell work, combine these two!
Years ago, my class formulated equations from the date. It really stimulated their thought process. Unfortunately, the year 2000 brought too many zeroes. But I missed it.
“What happened on this date in history?” This simple question provoked some of the best discussions ever in my classroom. It brought the past to life, reinforced my history lessons, and promoted cultural literacy. When academic standards gobbled up more and more of my class time, exploring the date in history was abandoned. But I missed it.
The other day, I was out on a walk, thinking about these beloved activities. And voila! An idea popped into my head: We could use a date in history to find equations! I love the idea of bringing these practices back.
Quite a few sites offer information about the date in history. I mainly referred to these.
- This Day in History (History.com) offers a short video that features a few interesting events from that date. (Unfortunately, you have to sit through an advertisement first.) More than a dozen events are listed down the right-hand side of the page. Just click for a full article. Note: Focus is on the United States history.
- Today in History (History.net) presents a simple list of events from that date. Clickable terms take you to articles explaining people, places, and/or events. Note: Dates go way back in history and include more worldwide happenings.
Ideas for Building Equations Every Day
This summer, I’m creating slides like this for display or distribution.
Just pop up (or hand out) the date in history, and let your students find the equations. Here are some ideas:
- Set a time limit.
- Share and discuss equations to promote powerful math talk.
- Use it as morning work, bell work, anchor activities, differentiation, or homework.
- Give prizes or points, if you want.
- Once your students get good at this, set limits. For example, outlaw parentheses or zeroes on both sides of the equation.
- Use the event in history as a springboard to meaningful discussion and/or research.
Be sure to go over the order of operations before beginning. Here’s a reference sheet to get you started.
Enjoy building equations every day!