Variables & variable expressions + literacy issues


Created by Frances Harper & Sheila Orr

  • Early Algebra project – appropriate for 7th-8th grade or for the beginning of an Algebra I class
  • Mathematics topics: identify & define variables; identify coefficients and describe their role in expressions/equations; describe covariance; write expressions to represent situations or write equations/inequalities to represent the relationship between variables in situations; proportional reasoning; basic statistics
  • Social justice issues: Understand why literacy is an important issue for consideration at both a global and local level; Understand how literacy is defined; Identify factors that are correlated with illiteracy (including a focus on differences in literacy rates by race); identify ways to promote literacy at global/local levels
  • Overarching goal – Students explore various variables related to literacy, with a focus on differences in literacy rates by race. Students consider current research, which has been unable to successfully identify variables that explain these differences by race. Then, they consider one possible variable that may impact literacy rates – the lack of children’s books by and about people of color. Finally, they explore variables that they think are important in order to propose an action that they might take as a class to impact literacy rates in their local community.

Download Lesson Plan

Student worksheets:

Recommended readings: