Math Tourist: Area & Fractions in Phoenix

Essential Questions for students (objectives):  How can you use fractions to represent part of a total area?

Supplies:   video (length -1:02), note-maker              Time needed: 20 minutes
CCSS:  5.NF.3, 5.NF.6, 5.G.3, Review of Area – rectangles & triangles
Instructional Format: Video, student problem-solving, group work
Vocabulary for a Word Wall: area, right triangle, rectangle

Description: There are many ways to use this video in your math class.  First of all, I did film it for a 5th grade class, but you can use it any time that you are working with area, multiplication, or writing fractions at a higher level.   The upshot of this lesson is the connection between fractions, area, and architecture.  The idea is for students to recognize that a right triangle is ½ a rectangle and that only 2/3 of the side of the building is covered with open right triangles.  A great classroom conversation would be for students to show the different methods they used to solve this problem.  I have included a note maker including the question:  “what fraction of the total area (of the side of the building) are the open triangles?” as well as some problem-solving questions if students get stuck.

 1) You can show this video (1:02) at the beginning of a unit on multiplying fractions as a hook that will keep the students interested in learning about the skill.  You can have them work on the problem at the end of daily lessons (or once a week) armed with new knowledge that they are exploring in class.  Or you could revisit the video at the end of the unit as a formative check to see what the students have learned about applying fraction operations and whether they can apply that knowledge.

2) You could show this video as a warm-up activity after the students have learned how to multiply fractions.  It is a great way to show context to a fraction problem.  However, the strength really lies in the multiple ways that students can attack this problem.

Extensions:  (These questions appear on the note maker) How does this particular design protect the building from the sun?  What do you notice about right triangles and rectangles with respect to area?  What other geometric use of architecture helps protect humans from the elements of a particular region?

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