Monday, April 9, 2012

AIMS—Looking at Lines (TOS Review)

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Looking At Lines, published by  AIMS Educational Foundation, is a hands-on math book designed to “introduce algebraic concepts  in their natural setting with activities drawn from real-world phenomena.”  The 232-page book, written for grades 6-9, includes 32 activities that teach about linear functions. One activity included building a balance scale in which each arm represents the x or y axis, using paper clips as weights, then taking measurements and graphing the results. Another activity required dropping a ball, measuring the bounce height, and graphing the results.

I thought that the hands-on activities were very good for helping students understand how graph can show a relationship between numbers. A typical math book has kids graphing coordinates, but may not help them understand that the resulting line shows a defined relationship between the numbers. Every activity that we’ve done so far requires hands-on measurement, graphing the results, then coming up with an equation that explains the data. Follow-up discussion questions are asked that require the student to understand the task and to predict results when the variables are changed. We did run into a problem in one of the early lessons, when the questions expected knowledge of terms such as domain, range, and dependent variable that hadn’t been taught yet. We had to look at the teacher’s guide to find out the correct answers.

Although this is designed for classroom use, I found it easy to adapt for one student. Most of the activities were simple to implement, but a few, such as building a balance scale from a straw and cardboard were a bit more time-intensive. The guide provides background teacher’s material, which is helpful, but I did have to spend a bit of time each day preparing for the lesson. I would have preferred that it be more student-directed.

I found the book to be a nice supplement to our math program.

Looking at Lines comes with a CD with printable student pages and sells for $24.95.

To read more reviews of Looking at Lines and other AIMS products, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

4/5 stars

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As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free book from AIMS in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.

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