This unit is designed for a class of 10 to 20 students in grade 9 in an Honors Algebra 1 class. Lessons may be applicable to 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students in an Algebra 2 or Precalculus class as well. This unit should take approximately 3-5 weeks, if taught continuously. However, the lessons have been designed so that they are independent of each other and may be used in the context of another unit covering similar objectives and having covered the same prerequisite skills and concepts.
The following describes some statistics of state, district and school students. Included are standardized test performance, ethnicity, pupil to teacher ratio, and annual expenditure per pupil. The percent of Connecticut students performing at goal on the CAPT is 46.3. For the district this percent is 11.6. At James Hillhouse High School, the percent proficient on the CAPT is 4.8. This shows that local students need much help with preparation for the type of content that the CAPT assesses, as well as the actual format of the test. 13.8% of Connecticut students are black, while 53.7% of New Haven Public Schools students are black. At James Hillhouse High School, 89% of students are black. Thus this unit is designed with black students as an overwhelming majority of the student audience. The number of students per teacher in the state of Connecticut is 13.6, while this ratio for the New Haven Public Schools district is 14, slightly higher than the state average. The amount of money allocated for each student per year in the state is $11579, while the district annual expenditure per pupil is $10382 (Nations Report Card, Connecticut No Child Left Behind (NCLB) State Report: 2005-06 School Year, Mayo, Garris). This is evident by a lack of resources with which to instruct students. One of the goals of this unit is to be able to describe the mathematics of natural disasters through hands on learning with limited resources.