Literature Connection:

poem "Smart" by Shel Siverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends

Mathematical strand:



Ratios, rates and unit rates

Grade level:


Lesson Created by:

Marie Green, Susan B. Anthony Middle School, Manhattan, KS.

Lesson Description:


  • The poem "Smart" from the Book - Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, 3 x 5 note cards

1. Launching the lesson (engage):

  1. Read the poem "Smart"
  2. Discuss why the boy was confused. He traded his dollar for 2 quarters because 2>1. Why is this a problem?

2. Developing the lesson

  1. Have students fill out the note card. On it two numbers have been written. The student is to show a relationship between the two numbers (Ex. 5,50). A possible answer is 5 dimes to 50 cents. Have the students share the relationships they have written.
  2. Now introduce the terms: rate-ratio of two measurements with different units ratio- comparison of two numbers by division
  3. Each student is to tell whether he has written a rate or a ratio.
  4. On the back of the note card each student is to write his own set of numbers and share a relationship that he has made.
  5. Discuss the student-made relationships.
  6. Once again discuss the relationships as either a rate or a ratio
  7. Introduce the idea of unit rate. Unit rate - a rate with a denominator of 1
  8. Have each student change the numbers on their card to a unit rate.

3. Closure/Discussion/Elaboration

  1. Pose the question: What kind of unit rate would the smartest son need to make sure he wasn't being cheated? (1: 1)
  2. Why do we simplify ratios? (To have simpler numbers to work with)
  3. Students are to complete the worksheet E-8 on ratio and unit rate.

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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University