Weekly Math Poll – Solar Systems

This week, we have a poll for solving systems of linear equations with a home solar electricity context, thus the groan worthy title, “Solar Systems”. I couldn’t resist and I won’t apologize- there’s no such thing as a bad pun.

The poll starts with some simple linear modeling word problems to get your students warmed up. Students often struggle with word problems and I’ve found that adding in accessible, linear modeling problems can make them not seem so daunting. I also find that the scratchpad is a great place for language supports. Even if you don’t have any emerging bilinguals in your class, it is good to have a reminder of what we mean by ‘model’ so students are ready when it comes to test time.

– Student scratchpad customized with embedded language support –

Task 3 asks them to find the point when both homes will cost the same amount of money. This is a great problem to have students use the scratchpad to show their work. That way, you get more insight into how they are solving the problem and, if they get it wrong, where they went astray. I find the expression editor (the “Expr” tab) to be helpful for writing out my work.

– Bookmarked student response –

Notice how I bookmarked this response “Great work using the scratchpad!” This means you can pull up and project this example to go over with everyone, even in different classes.

For task 4, students are asked to explain if they think buying solar panels is a good idea or not and justify their reasoning. This lets students use math to make an argument and also bring in their values and lives outside of school. This can also be a good opportunity for you to show another representation of systems of equations, a table. Polls doesn’t have a three column table (yet) but you can make two tables that auto populate if you have x in one column title and an expression in terms of x in the other. This way you can present, as is done in the bookmarked response below, how tables help support the notion that after 20.8 years, it will be cheaper to have solar panels.

– Using tables to help support answer –

We like how this question can be mathematized, but students can also give answers like “20 years is too long to wait” or “I wouldn’t want to spend \$25,000 upfront” that are also valid and worth reviewing.

This poll gives your students a review of modeling linear relationships and provides you with valuable data on their understanding and procedural fluency with solving linear systems.

Get started by previewing the poll right now, or login toand search for Solar Systems in the Shared Gallery.