Prison Project Lesson Plan & Rubric

The Prison Project
Grade Level
Algebra II-A: This is the first year of a two-year Algebra II class. This class was created
to meet the needs of juniors and seniors in high school who want to take Algebra II
and who would benefit from a slower-paced, activity-based class.
Students will be able to identify the independent and dependent variable, as well as
the domain and range for various graphs related to incarceration in the U.S. Students
will use these terms with the graphs to describe the trends they notice.
Students will choose a data set related to incarceration in the United States. Each
data set involves two related trends. Students will create a scatterplot for each trend
on a shared grid. Students will do this by hand and will also learn how to do this with
the graphing calculator.
Students will develop mathematical models for the linear trends they find in their data
sets. They will describe what the numbers in their equations tell us about the trends in
the data.
Students will describe two factors that are related to the increasing trends in
imprisonment in the United States.
Students will describe one idea for a plan to change the increasing trend of
Background Mathematical Knowledge
Independent Variable, Dependent Variable, Domain and Range are vocabulary
words that students have been introduced to. Comfort with these words/concepts
varies greatly among students.
Students have worked with graphing calculators to make scatterplots. Many have
not mastered the procedure and most have never created more than one plot at the
same time.
Students have background knowledge of linear equations from previous math classes.
Ability to relate a linear equation to a real situation varies.
1) Display the graphs below and facilitate a class discussion that includes the
following prompts:
What is the independent and dependent variable for this graph?
What function family does this graph seem to belong to?
What domain and range and displayed on this graph?
What might be a problem with looking at the total number of people
incarcerated? What other measure could be used instead?
Why do you think the trend shows such increase? What factors might have
affected the growth?
2) Word Splash:
Disparity Ratio
Emotional Impact
Law Enforcement
Property Crime
Social Ills
Violent Crime
Choral Reading: The class reads through the list of
words together.
Word-Sort: Students work in pairs to sort these words
based on what they think the words mean.
Share: Students share ideas about sorting methods
and the class discusses meanings for words. The
teacher is prepared to define words and answer
 Students choose a set of data to explore.
 Students will make scatterplots for their data. This will involve two plots on one
grid, with careful labeling of variables and numbering of axes.
 Students will use their graphing calculators to get linear equations for their data
 Students with the same graphs will form a group. They will check their work with
each other and discuss the trends and implications of their data.
 Each data group will share their findings with the class.
1) Independent Variable:
1st Dependent Variable:
2nd Dependent Variable:
Money Spent on Incarceration
Money Spent on Education
One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, p. 32
2) Independent Variable:
1st Dependent Variable:
2nd Dependent Variable:
% of Black Americans Who are Drug Users
% of Black Americans Who are Incarcerated for Drug use.
3) Independent Variable:
1st Dependent Variable:
2nd Dependent Variable:
% of White Americans Who are Drug Users
% of White Americans Who are Incarcerated for Drug use.
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs, p. 4, 6, and 8
4) Independent Variable:
1st Dependent Variable:
2nd Dependent Variable:
Lifetime chances of ever going to Prison if White American
Lifetime chances of ever going to Prison if Black American
The New American Apartheid, Table 5
5) Independent Variable:
1st & 2nd Dependent Variable:
% of Men incarcerated for the 1st time by level of education
Inequality in US Prison Incarceration, Table A.3.
6) Independent Variable:
1st Dependent Variable:
2nd Dependent Variable:
% of US Black Children with a Parent in Prison
% of US White Children with a Parent in Prison
Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration, p. 9 Table 1.3
The teacher will present information to stimulate further thought and discussion.
Resources include:
In Politics, Fact, Fancy Can Blur in Keystroke: Bogus Claim Linking Jail, School Raised
Election After Election
New PSA: Educate Us, Or Else
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Uneven Justice:State Rates of Incarceration By Race and Ethnicity
The Justice Policy Institute
One in 100 Behind Bars in America
Professor Pamela Oliver, Sociology Department, UW-Madison
The Effective National Drug Control Policy
Discussion points might include:
 Claims that third grade reading scores are used to predict prison populations
seem to be false—but there certainly is a connection between educational
levels and incarceration.
 The rate of incarceration for Black Americans is historically higher than for White
Americans—why might that be?
 The incarceration rate skyrocketed in the 1980’s—this is directly related to the
“War on Drugs.”
 The money spent on incarcerating drug offenders is significantly higher than
money spent on prevention and treatment.
 Even though use of drugs among Black Americans is proportional to their
representation in the U.S. population—the rate of arrest among Black Americans
is much higher than for White Americans.
Students will create a display of their work and will be graded using the rubric on the
following page.
The teacher will share the rubric with students when giving the assignment and will
create an example of an excellent project for students to look at.
Algebra II-A
Prison Project Grading Rubric
Name _______________________________
Excellent work (Score of 4) looks like:
Scatterplot is made with graph paper. The x & y axes are both carefully and
correctly numbered. Both axes are labeled with the variable they represent.
Colors are used to enhance the graph. Points are precisely plotted, but not
The equation must be obtained by accurately entering data into the calculator
and performing a linear regression. The equation is displayed neatly in the
First Paragraph
The paragraph relates both the slope and y-intercept of the equation to the
data situation. The connection between the data and the equation is made
very clear.
The paragraph gives 2-3 factors that have contributed to growth in
incarceration in the United States. The factors are stated, but also described
with some detail. An excellent paragraph makes your opinion clear and backs
it up with facts.
Third Paragraph
The paragraph gives an idea for decreasing incarceration growth. The idea
must be well thought-out and you must describe why you think it could be
These requirements are put together in an organized display of your choice.
The requirements are met. The project demonstrates good skills and understandings.
The requirements are met. The project demonstrates satisfactory skills and
The requirements are partially met. The project demonstrates some skills and
The requirements are not met. The project demonstrates little or no skill and
On the back of this paper, please respond to the following prompts:
1) Explain one thing you learned by completing this project.
2) Explain the most difficult part of this project.
3) Explain the most enjoyable part of this project.
(2 pts each)