This is the introduction to a long-term project for an Algebra I class in which the class works collaboratively to design, plan, run, and evalutate a small business. Throughout this process, the students will be introduced to, and practice, various Algebraic concepts related to linear equations and then apply these concepts to their project. The purpose of this lesson is simply to expose students to what they will be expected to do and to generate a high level of enthusiasm for the project.

Group Size: Whole class

Learning Objectives:

1. Students will gain a general understanding of the structure of the business project and how it will proceed.

2. Students will gain a clear understanding of the expectations on them for this project in terms of participation, classwork, and assessment.

3. Students will begin constructing their portfolio by going over the checklist and rubric together.


Attached checklist and rubric

Colored folder for each student (to become their portfolio)


This lesson is very simply an introduction to the project. The teacher should introduce the new unit by telling the students that they will get to experience Algebra at work in the real world. They should reference the fact that while not everything in the Algebra curriculum is commonly useful in the "real world", the information that we will be covering over the next 8 weeks is extremely common and useful.

The class will create and run a small business from the ground up. They will have to come up with the ideas for the product, determine how much to charge for the product and how much to produce, actually sell the product, and report back as to how much money they've made. To make it more interesting, any net profit (which will be explained tomorrow) that they make will go towards buying pizza or ice cream, or something else with which they can have a class party at the end!

The teacher should then outline the various phases of the project, giving a minimum of explanation for each phase:

  • Planning -- we need to figure out what we want to sell, how much we will be able to sell at our school, and how much people are willing to pay for our product. We will also need to predict how many units of our product we will need to be able to sell before we begin making money, because we will need to borrow money from the principal in order to begin our business (and s/he will want to have some guaranty of getting that money back!).
  • Research -- we will need to do some "market research" to see how much of our product the school will really want to buy, and at what price.
  • Proposal -- we will need to ask for a loan from the principal for our start-up costs. We'll need to work together to create a snazzy proposal using Powerpoint to convince him/her that we are a good credit risk.
  • Execution -- after all of this, we'll run the business for two weeks, keeping track of our sales and money every day.
  • Evaluation and Reporting -- once we've finished selling, we won't be done! We need to report back to the principal how much money we've made, and how the project went. We will also need to create an Annual Report for our business to let our parents and other teachers know how we did.
  • Party!
The teacher should then lead a brief discussion with the class to see what they feel are the important behavioral expectations for this hands-on project. S/he should especially emphasize the need to work well collaboratively and to make sure that everyone participates in every activity.

Finally, the teacher should pass out the attached checklist and rubric and go over all of the expectations for the students' portfolios. It may be helpful to provide a place in the classroom where students can store their portfolios when they are not using them. Some time may be given in class for students to individualize their portfolios and identify them.

Attached Files:

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