Lesson Plan: “Paying for Crime”: Critical Analysis, Research, and Problem Solving

We love lesson plans that take an interdisciplinary approach to learning.  We found this one combining a look at the United States prison and correctional system with how statistics are calculated.

“The number of people in prison in America has been rising steadily, resulting in overcrowded prisons and a budget crisis. Contrary to popular belief, a rise in crime isn’t the primary reason for the increase in prison populations. Studies have shown that changes in laws and policies regarding imprisonment seem to be the major cause.”

In the four linked activities in this lesson plan, your high school students will apply their knowledge of ratios, proportions, fractions, decimals, percents, scientific notation, mean, median, mode, range, and pie graphs to interpret data and statistics regarding the U.S. government’s budget for prisons and correctional services. Then, students will synthesize what they have learned and communicate it using diagrams and mathematical evidence.  This lesson plan is perfect for high school math instruction.  Each activity is accompanied with student worksheets, instructor guides, and extension activities.

This lesson was featured by PBS Newshour and was developed by Amy Lein, a teacher at Newton High School here in Massachusetts.