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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Home Sweet Home: Buying a House

Project URLhttp://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/mbhs/alee/home.htm

How it works:
The purpose of this program is to help students see the math involved in fulfilling one of the American Dreams: buying a house. The students use the Internet to find a home as well as the interest rates that banks charge to finance that home. They go to the Student Project Page to answer questions like: "You and your spouse are considering buying a house that costs $189,000. You have $80,000 in your savings account and have been waiting to go on a $30,000 world cruise. The remaining $50,000 will be used as a down payment on the house. You've decided to finance the house with a 30-year loan. Using Excel calculate the monthly payment of the loan." There are also writing assignments to help students evaluate their decisions.  Students will also present their findings to the class.

Standards addressed:
Students use a variety of strategies to understand new mathematical content and develop more efficient solution methods or problem extensions. They also understand the components of mathematical modeling. Finally, students see that mathematics began long ago to help solve practical problems, but soon focused on abstractions drawn from the world and then on abstract relationships among those abstractions. 

Materials used:
Students need a computer with Internet access and Microsoft Office 97, Excel, and Word software.  They may also want to use PowerPoint for their presentation.

The students:
Home Sweet Home
is designed for 9th graders, but it can be adapted for all grades studying algebra.

Overall value
This program enables students to become familiar with algebra, real-life problem solving, interest problems, and math with spreadsheets. This a great program for teachers who are tired of hearing "Why do we need to know this?"  This project illustrates how algebra is helpful in realizing one of life's great dreams: buying a home. Students will be challenged to look for a "dream" home and an affordable interest rate. They then calculate how much they need to pay per month to finance it. This makes good use of the Internet as well as spreadsheets and presentation software. Students think creatively and learn how math affects them in their lives.

Tips for the teacher:
An answer key is provided, but teachers should try the math part of the project before they assign it to their students. They should also understand the formulas in Excel first.


About the teacher:
Angela Lee is a high school math teacher at Murry Bergtraum High School. She received her Bachelor and Masters degree from New York University. 

Email: aql9710@hotmail.com

Subject Areas:

Grade Level: 9-12



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