Saturday, March 25, 2017

Systems of Equations Through the Lens of Child Labor

My latest project consider the importance of social justice conversations in the classroom and how those conversations can naturally take place within the secondary mathematics classroom. With this in mind, my goal has been to write a series of social justice-inspired math activities with different high school content foci.

Here is the first. Note: I literally just finished this, and it has taken FOREVER. These are still in draft mode though, so they will likely (read: definitely) need editing. Please, if you decide to review them, let me know of any or all issues. I really want to polish these up.

Before I began teaching, I worked in Washington, D.C. at an international trade law firm. Lots of the work I did centered around labor issues in different countries, and thus I became very familiar with concerns of child and forced labor around the globe. The activity below introduces students to the issue of child labor and forced child labor blended with 3-variable and 2-variable systems of equations. This lesson is not meant to introduce the idea of systems but rather serve as a type of review activity. This lesson is meant to span 3-4 days and is built in Desmos Activity Builder as well as ThingLink and GoogleDocs.

Teacher notes: Divide the class into 8 groups of 3 or 4. Each group will be assigned a different region of the world. At the end of the lesson, each group will report back their findings concerning their region of the world.

Links to Activity (NOTE: It is important to make your own copy of this activity and then run it from

North America:
South America:
Europe & Oceania:
West Africa:
North & Central Africa:
East & South Africa:
West & Central Asia:
East, Southeast & South Asia:

While the students are working through these activities on their devices, the instructor needs to have the following two graphs pulled up and displayed so students can compile regional data near the end of the activity.

Counts Compiled Data Graph:
Percentages Compiled Data Graph:

Teacher Notes (Part 2): It is CRUCIAL that the instructor move about the room and push conversations as groups arrive at the interspersed reflection questions. When groups compile data onto the master graphs on the teacher device, it is also important to have comparative discussions at that juncture.

Again, please let me know of any issues or suggestions with these activities! Enjoy!

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