Math Debating Overview: MTBoS Mission #1

For MTBoS Mission #1, I was tasked to blog about either (1) a favorite open ended question or (2) one thing that makes my classroom distinctly mine.  I’m going to go double or nothing and answer both questions together.

My classroom has a distinct culture of debate (see a few earlier posts like this one or this one).  I try to foster an environment where students are open to discussion, making convincing arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others.  This makes my classroom uniquely me (as I’m also a Speech & Debate coach!).

My favorite rich open ended problem is a debate about the music industry.  The activity where I use it is the culmination of the many debate structures I introduce throughout the semester, ending in a full-scale, class-long debate.   It goes something like this:

A new but promising young artist is trying to decide how to produce his new record. Should he choose a major record label, a legitimate indie label or independent producing? Below are the options.

• Major Record Label wants to sign the new artist. They will give the artist a $200,000 signing bonus, plus the artist will get $0.10 in royalty for each song sold.

• Indie Record Label wants to sign the new artist. They offer a $50,000 signing bonus plus $0.60 in royalty for each song sold.

• Self-Employed artists get to keep all their earnings. It will cost $20,000 for recording time and supplies, but once the record is made, the artist makes $0.80 per song sold.

• Eccentric Billionaire is always interested in new business adventures. He offers the artist $300,000 for full rights to the songs. The billionaire keeps all earnings of the song.

9 thoughts on “Math Debating Overview: MTBoS Mission #1

  1. Gregory Taylor (@mathtans) October 9, 2013 / 11:21 pm

    Always nice when you can mesh something personal with a rich task! That’s a really interesting set of options (plus music, yay!) – how much prep time does the class have? Like do they get the options the day of the debate, or a bit in advance? Because now I’m thinking I should research to see on average how many songs a young artist might expect to sell… guess that’s part of the point. Well done!

    • pispeak October 16, 2013 / 9:54 pm

      I usually launch it at the end of one class. Then they get the whole next day to prep. The actual graded debate takes a full period. Sometimes, I allow a day or two (moving on with lessons) between the prep day and the performance day for students to finish preparing in the evenings/come to me for any final help.

  2. Bryan Dickinson October 10, 2013 / 11:59 am

    When I think of truly engaging problems, this is what I think of. Who cares if a problem gives the exact amount of information the student needs and takes place in the Australian Outback or has to do with somebody standing a certain distance from a flagpost. This is boring, but your question doesn’t give students all of the information they need, plus they are developing proofs without knowing it as they prepare for a debate. And of course students just love music so thank you for sharing this project idea. This MTBoS project is going to build some cool connections. Keep up the good work!

  3. Untilnextstop (@untilnextstop) October 10, 2013 / 11:59 pm

    Hey Chris! I love the premise, but I *love* the fact that your class revolves around debates! Did I ever tell you that at one of my old schools, we used to have a tax unit (application of piecewise functions) that culminated in a debate about tax policy? I am thinking about reviving that this year, because WA state taxes are pretty messed up, in my opinion. Anyway, hope you are well!

    • pispeak October 16, 2013 / 9:56 pm

      Would you mind emailing me some of the details on this??

  4. River Driver October 15, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    Love the idea of debate and making convincing arguments. Definitely is something I could use in my geometry classroom. Thanks for the ideas!


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