Classroom Instructional Activities

The links below all take you to PDF versions of classroom writing projects that we have created for use in classes ranging from Introductory Algebra through Differential Calculus. We have created and incorporated innovative group writing projects into our mathematics courses. These projects are written in a creative and fun manner and set in a realistic, open-ended context.  Cartoon characters, movie stars, and famous people “write” letters to our students seeking their expert mathematical advice.  Students are then asked to use technology and their mathematical knowledge to work in groups of three or four and write a professional letter back to the inquirer or create a Power point and present their findings to the class.  The individuals who pose each problem do not understand the mathematics necessary for a solution, so the students have to be clear in their explanations in both written language and mathematical symbolism.

There is also a rubric included at the end of of each project that you can use to assess the student work if you choose.

We have found these to be motivational, educational, and fun! Let us know what you think after you try them out, please!


Linear/Quadratic modeling, average/instantaneous rate of change – Survivor Writing Project

Linear Systems – Systems Writing Project – Tool Time

Linear/Quadratic – Group Project _Star Wars_

Exponential Functions – Starbucks Group Project

Quadratic modeling, First and Second differences – Salute to Brakes Writing Project

Linear modeling – Rule Time Salute to Speed Writing Project

Piecewise Functions – Group Project _FRIENDS – Phoebe Buffay_

Exponential Functions- Harry Potter activity

Linear/Quadratic Function, Rate of Change – Fear Factor Group Project

Compare Linear & Exponential Functions – Group Project _Brady Bunch_

Power Functions – Gremlins (light intensity) writing project

Power Functions – Bert’s Paper Clips Writing Project


Accumulated areas, dimensional analysis – Group Project _A Bug’s Life_


Sinusoidal modeling – Group Project _Wile E. Coyote

Sinusoidal modeling – Group Project (The Princess Bride)

Sinusoidal modeling – Group Project _Captain Hook_

Sinusoidal modeling – Group Project _Gilligan’s Island

Right triangle trigonometry, optimization, experimental design – N.E.R.D. Writing Project

Calculus I

Optimization – Lassie Group Project

Mean Value Theorem – Group Project _In Pursuit of Justice_

Optimization – Coke can writing project

Logistic modeling, Derivatives – Buzz Lightyear Writing Project

Optimization – Group Project (007scooter)

Optimization – James Bond MIG-FH Writing Project

Optimization – Group Project _Tiger Woods_

Calculus II

Accumulation, Integrals – Group Project _I Love Lucy_

Accumulation, Integrals – Group Project _Dr I.R. Service (2009)

Accumulation, Integrals – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Calculus

Volume of Revolution – Hershey Kiss Writing Project

Taylor Polynomials – TI-83 and Taylor Polynomials

Calculus III

Lagrange Multiplier – Oscar the Grouch Group Project

Iterated Integrals – Double Integral Writing Project

Vector-Valued Functions – Spider-Man Group Project

Vectors and more – Golden Gate Bridge Project

Vector-Valued Functions – Leave It To Beaver Group Project

Vector-Valued Functions – Mario Kart 64 writing project

Differential Equations

Variable Separable/Euler’s Method – Time of Death project-DE


Financing a Loans – Group Project _Happy Days_


Random Sampling Group Project – Flintstones

  1. getrealmath says:

    Wow! These projects are incredible!

  2. Ivan Estrada says:

    hi! i am a student in south carolina. my teacher gave me the exponential functions- starbucks project to do by myself and i am really confused. could you maybe put up a step by step guide n how to do it? or some other type of way to help me! thank you so much!

    • getrealmath says:

      Hi Ivan,

      I am happy to provide some assistance…however, if your teacher gave the project for you to work on, I wouldn’t want to supplant your teacher’s goals by giving you the answer! Is there a specific question you have so that I can help you to make progress? It would also help if I knew where you are in your math studies…what class are you currently taking?

      In general, the idea of the Starbucks project is to create a mathematical model (in this case an exponential function) to represent the number of Starbucks stores as a function of time. Depending on what you already know, there are a couple of different ways to approach this.

      Please let me know if you have a specific question and what class you are taking and then I can help you to make progress on this project. Thanks!


  3. Heather Toepfer says:

    Oh my gosh, I love this site. I am a HS math teacher and this stuff is PERFECT! Thank you so much, my student send their groins of gratefulness!!

    • getrealmath says:

      Heather…thanks! I will continue to add my thoughts to the common core bashers as they are brought to my attention!

      The bottom line for me…it is not about supporting common core…it is about supporting good teaching and learning!


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