Our 10th grade Algebra 2 Honors classes completed a 10-day project-based unit called Predict the Future. Guided by Mrs. Cochrane and Ms. Barnett, students first learned math concepts of exponential growth and decay. At home, students journaled online in MOODLE about the differences between the equations of growth and decay. Next, they applied this knowledge to a subject of interest.
In teams, they took on real-life roles such as demographers or scientists. Their topics ranged from the cost of college tuition and the decline in the birth rate in China to the daily use of Snapchat and the effects of shark attacks. The girls used the Internet to collect data, analyzed it, created "XY Scatter" graphs, and found equations that best fit the data curve.
Next, the groups brainstormed potential ramifications of their data. Would the data trends continue? What would be the quality of life given this data? Finally, they created PowerPoint presentations in class and presented them. Students critiqued each other and made suggestions.
Throughout this 2016-17 project, the girls wrote in online reflective learning journals. Here are a few excerpts of those writings.
Sophia : "I enjoyed the ability to research and learn about the Mexican immigrant population in the United States. This project taught me many valuable lessons in algebra, public speaking and presentations, and applying algebra to real life. Overall, this project was very interesting and informational."
Jane: "I would have never thought that I would be able to learn an entire topic without an official lesson. This unit was taught to my class through one group project and many small activities in class, and I feel like it helped me gain a better understanding of the topic of exponential growth and decay."
Megan: "Throughout this Predict the Future project, I learned about many new things. I learned about exponential growth, the line of best fit, and correlation coefficients. I was able to discover more about China and its decaying birth rate."
Deanna: "To me, the most important aspect of this project was analyzing trends and the past, and understanding how these things can affect the future. We were also able to reflect on how we might alter our lifestyles to make a more positive impact on the world and others."
Gabriela: "After formulating the notion that data analysis can help predict the future, our class made connections to what we have learned in math this year. ... I found these connections interesting because it reminded me of math's importance in our daily lives."
Project-based units are one way that Ursuline teachers engage students to develop critical thinking skills and collaborative learning.