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My Fellow Americans

Is simpler always better?

Is simpler always better? The rapper Jay-Z once described how he “dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars.” Indeed, a recent analysis found that the average top-rated pop song is written at a third-grade reading level.

In this lesson, students evaluate expressions with variables to compare the reading levels of famous speeches in American history and debate the virtues of complexity vs. popularity.

REAL WORLD TAKEAWAYS

• Longer sentences and bigger words make a piece of writing or speech more difficult to understand.
• Simplifying a message will allow more people to understand more easily…
• …But when you simplify a complex idea enough, some essential parts of the message may get lost.

MATH OBJECTIVES

• Evaluate expressions at specific values of their variables

Appropriate most times as students are developing conceptual understanding.
Equations & Expressions
Equations & Expressions
Content Standards
Mathematical Practices