I am always trying to find fun and easy ways to make math more applicable for my students. The idea of visiting other places is a great way to get their attention. I created a frequent flyer mile template that can be used in any math course that touches on slope, linear equations, or direct variation. The activity can be used with a whole-group, small-group, or even a take home assignment. One of the best features is, it’s set up to give the students lots of choices. They get to choose the airline they use, the dates they fly, and where they are going to travel. Their goal is to find out if they can earn a free flight. Of course, there is lots of math they need to do along the way!
Here is how I organize the activity for collaborative, small groups:
FIRST: Create groups of 2 or 3, and give a list of airlines they can choose from. Be sure to check beforehand that the airline has a points program. Some groups can have use the same airline, it really doesn’t matter.
SECOND: Have them research their airline to see how the frequent flyer mile program works. This will help them determine what x- and y- should represent and create their equation. I usually pre-determine the goal points they need to earn for the free flight, as that may be more difficult for them to find, but it’s up to you.
THIRD: Now, they get to decide which places they will travel! They will calculate their points along the way. You will observe students discussing places to travel and strategies on how to make sure they travel far enough to earn a free flight.
LAST: Once they are finished traveling, they need to add the total miles (x) they flew and the total points (y) they earned. They will use these numbers as their right endpoint on their graph. It will also help them determine if they earned a free flight.
I use a similar model as above for a whole-group activity, except we vote on which places to visit. We have fun googling each place to see how cool it would be to go there! This would even be a good activity to tie into a history course…hmmmm, something to think about for next time.
Sometimes taking a break from the standard lesson is a good thing!
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