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Happiness, and the lack thereof, is on the mind of every student in our classroom. As a result, students often have strong opinions about happiness, sadness, and the space between. Do bad days make good days feel better? Is it better to have a steady, small level of happiness, or to swing wildly from elation to misery and back?

In this lesson, students use integers to compare good and bad days and use absolute value to explore what happens when we reinterpret negative moments in a more positive light.

Students will

  • Analyze a set of graphs representing the happiness levels of two students over the course of a week
  • Add integers to find total happiness levels for each student
  • Subtract integers to find the change in happiness from one day to the next
  • Use absolute value to determine how a negative experience might be re-interpreted as positive
  • Present a graphical representation of an ideal week

Before you begin

Students should be able to read coordinate planes and line graphs and have a basic understanding of the value and order of negative numbers. Students may have an easier time with this activity if they can already find the difference between a positive and negative number, but this lesson could also be used to introduce that topic.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices