Saturday, July 6, 2013

Woody's Raise

We decided to get Netflix recently and I was excited to see that Cheers episodes are available. I occasionally put an episode on in the background while I get work done. I came across this episode that literally snuck in some math (money, raises, time, rate) right before the end of the episode. Sam Malone, the owner of the bar in the tie (played by Ted Danson), is talking with Woody Boyd, a bartender (played by Woody Harrelson), about a raise. Roll Act 1:

After consulting with my man, Nathan Kraft, I bleeped out a part of Woody's last line. The two of us discussed the tendency a bleep can have in implying some profanity was removed. So if this lesson goes horribly wrong, blame Nathan! All those toothpicks finally caught up with him. Here's how the exchange goes between Sam and Woody:
Sam: We were talking about your 50 dollar a month raise.
Woody: Sam, it was a hundred a month.
Sam is caught for trying to pull a fast one on Woody. Woody appears to let it slide, but something occurred to Woody. He turns to Sam and the exchange continues:
Woody: I think a hundred a month is too steep. I'll settle for [BLEEP] a week. 
Sam (without blinking): You got it!
I anticipate students noticing that the amount was bleeped out and wondering what was bleeped. I anticipate students not sure if Woody said, "[BLEEP] a week" or something inaudible? I anticipate students noticing that the studio crowd laughs while wondering if Sam was just made a fool by Woody. I would love to first have a leisurely conversation with students about who they think just got the better deal in this exchange, Sam or Woody? Or was there even a better deal to be had? If you've ever watched an episode of Cheers, you know that neither character has a strong IQ. If anything, Woody is portrayed as a real naive, gullible, and takes-you-at-face-value type of character. Sam is about a handful of points above Woody. So what about Act 2 after you take some guesses from the class on who just got the better deal from this exchange?

This might be the first 3 Act lesson in which I don't have any additional information for Act 2. In all fairness, this might not fit my previous rant on measurable acts, but I think the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice are rubbing off on me (in a good way), especially Practice 4: Model with Mathematics.

I posted the Woody's Raise lesson on with very little in Act 2 because I'd love to know where the teacher would take this with his/her class. This type of teacher discretion can't be packaged in an online portal or catalog of video instruction. Here's what I threw out there for Act 2 (the first edition):

At what "raise" amount per week would Woody "settle" for the:
  1. Better deal
  2. Equivalent deal
  3. Worse deal
I have many questions when thinking about Act 2. Here's a few:
Over time, when does Sam or Woody begin to benefit or suffer from this deal, compared to the $100 raise per month?
Do all months have exactly four weeks? Does that matter or should we use 52 weeks in a year?
How would you anticipate students representing Woody's better deal versus the worse deal?
What would this look like graphically?
What would this look like organized in a table?
What equations could you anticipate students writing? If any?
How does this deal apply to Woody's hourly rate?
In what classroom could you talk about the tips Woody might make? Remember this takes place in a bar. Middle school students? High school students? College? A workshop with teachers? I think there's a lot of fun to be had with this video clip. Let's Roll Act 3 and see what Woody would "settle" for instead of the $100 a month raise:

I'm posting this lesson because I'm thinking out loud. More importantly, I'm curious what you would do in between Act 1 and Act 3 with your students. How would it be different in an elementary classroom? Middle school classroom? High school classroom? Teacher workshop? What would your Act 2 be? Where would you take this lesson with your students? I believe this is a multi-dimensional lesson that can take on some great mathematics. Bleeping out that weekly rate in Act 1 really opens up Act 2 for some rich mathematical discussions and modeling. Toss your Act 2 in the comments. Thanks!



  1. I definitely envision a compound inequality here. The lower limit is set by what value would be obviously funny to the audience. Would $15 be funny? No, probably not. What about $20? That seems better, but this wouldn't get Woody what he originally wanted. $25? That's sounding pretty good. Woody would be getting what he originally wanted (or more!).
    The upper limit would probably be $50, because Sam appears to want to break a deal of $50 or less. But what number should Woody offer that it seems like Sam is getting such a good deal, that he agrees to it without hesitation?
    Again, I love the openness of this problem. As a sequel, you could certainly reveal the answer and talk about what that raise really means (per year).

    1. I like the ideas you've hashed out here. I'd love to see students pitted against each other, arguing one scenario over the other.

      RE: "But what number should Woody offer that it seems like Sam is getting such a good deal, that he agrees to it without hesitation?"
      I love this approach. This really plays up MP 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

      Thanks for giving us an Act 2.

  2. I agree with Mr. Toothpick here about the richness of the relatively open nature of this task. I was really hoping Woody said $25 per week, as that would have been more interesting to me and would've made the 4 or more weeks in a month discussion even that much more engaging when trying to figure out Woody's raise.

    1. I hear ya when you say, "I was really hoping Woody said $25 per week."

      At first glance, this definitely appears to be the equivalent deal but is it really? Who benefits from this at the end of the year? This is a great extension activity. For comedic purposes, I think we both know why this wasn't the line. However, we both know who would benefit from this deal at the end of the year. What a great conversation to have with students, right
      Thanks for sharing this with us!

    2. Out of context, I'm not crazy about being called "Mr Toothpick".

  3. This looks like a very fun problem.

    Something I would do is have the students negotiate with each other on a raise. This way they are out into the character's shoes and they are thinking about how to end up with the best deal. They would need to think about the character's interests, and how they could present a deal that is clever enough to win out.

    1. This is a great way to take on MP 4. I am intrigued by the role-playing approach to Act 2. I agree, this would really allow students to "think about the character's interests, and how they could present a deal that is clever enough to win out."
      Thanks for sharing your idea with us!

  4. Ha! I [BLEEP] loved Cheers!! I'd just show Act 1, have a fun class discussion about it, guiding kids to stuff you and Nathan mentioned if they don't mention them all. That's it. Sometimes "3-Act" lessons don't have to have all 3 Acts. It's a great little clip that adds levity and freshness into class. Solid. Thanks, Andrew!

    1. As I consider modeling tasks (SMP 4), I've found more and more that the real power is in Act 1.

    2. I'm glad I've come to this realization and am okay with it:
      "Sometimes "3-Act" lessons don't have to have all 3 Acts."

      And as Chris says, the power is in Act 1 when choosing lessons that use MP 4. However, there's a lot of power in Act 2 and I think we've seen this from the comments above.

      Thanks for charing with us Fawn.

  5. Great catch, Andrew. I think it's a lot of fun as-is. The challenge for me in act two is figuring out what the student work would look like. Same as Mr. Toothpick, I see this as being a strong application of inequalities where we usually get equalities that have been kinda wedged into an inequality template.

    I like your plan to ask students for values that favor the Gute or Woody or neither, but I'd probably ask for ONE value for each at first because it's a lower bar. Then I'd compile a bunch of the class' values on a number line at the front. Then we'd notice the clumping. Then I'd ask for them to find ALL the values. Just guessing, though.

    Three things:

    1) I heard "thirty" in act one. I'd love to get that beep extended a bit. Maybe a black rectangle over the mouth. I can help there.

    2) Why not tag it with 6.EE.8 on 101questions, bud?! We're going for coverage here! Let me know if that interface is too difficult. (Just type in "inequalities" and watch it search the whole CCSS for you. One of my favorite features.)

    3) There's something special about seeing a clip like that where math is involved and chuckling about it. There's something even more special about showing that clip to your students and having a class-wide chuckle about it. There's something even MORE special about turning that clip into a task where students do math in order to have that chuckle. Strong work here.

    1. Re: "The challenge for me in act two is figuring out what the student work would look like."
      I agree. This was a big reason why I left Act 2 so open, both here and on 101qs. This is a testament to the power of Twitter and the online math community. Many people have come through with some great ideas, including yourself. Finding the media, editing it, and posting it was the easy part. This collaboration will help make Act 2 come to life in the classroom.

      I like your idea of using a number line to notice student guesses.

      I'll try the video edit again. I thought I cleansed it of the "thirty." I literally cut out the audio from that part and replaced it with the bleep. Or at least I thought I did. Drat. I made the tag update on 101qs. The interface is super easy and that was an oversight on my part. Thanks for the reminder. The CCSS search is definitely one of my favorite parts too. I think I overdid it with some other lessons on the site. Lastly, this scene is a lot of fun and I hope students get a chuckle out of it too, while doing math of course.
      Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

  6. I showed the clip to a workshop full of teachers, but I stopped the clip before Sam's last line, as I thought it made it too obvious that the joke was on Sam. The conversations, then, were two-sided: How is the answer different if the joke is on one, the other, or neither?

    1. Sweet. I thought about editing the clip for this same reason. I'm glad it worked out with your teachers! I'm curious to see the difference between how teachers respond versus students. I can think of a few students who would see Act 1 video as it currently is and still have no idea I'll have to test it out with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing.

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