(Insert clever pun here) Solving Radical Equations

Solving radical equations.  It’s a dry subject when you look at the Algebra 2 textbook.  I’m trying to find new ways to approach teaching without telling.  Thanks to the help of fellow Twitter Math Camper, @misscalcul8 , I was able to help kids figure out traditional mathematical steps without doing a traditional lecture.  My take varies slightly from hers in that my access to colored paper while at home the night before didn’t allow me to prep it quite the same.

Each student received a copy of her graphic organizer/follow along worksheet.  Students were then placed into groups of 4 and each group received one of four “step” pages inside of sheet protectors.   I asked students what they noticed about these pages.  “Um, what’s going on?” was the first reaction.  Then eventually someone pointed out the (*) by one line of equations on the sheet.  Eventually someone said, “so you want us to put these in order?”  BINGO!  I didn’t even have to tell them!  They then worked as a group recording down the steps in the correct order as they reasoned through each line determining which line logically came next.  I helped groups by swapping out pages of steps so they would have the opportunity to work on all four sets.

As I walked the room, I over heard students actually talking and reasoning about math!  YES!!  Score one for trying a non-traditional approach! (Well, excluding the group that was watching hockey highlight videos.  They were eventually working.)

Once each group was done, I wanted to see if they could apply what they learned.  Students spent the remainder of the period working on 9 problems.  On the top of the sheet for these problems, students were exposed to the phrase “extraneous solutions”.  When asked, no one knew what that meant.  I’ve been challenging them to be resourceful Algebra 2 students, so with a prompt about being resourceful, some looked in the textbook and others used Google on their phones.  After a conversation about “extraneous solutions,” students got to work.

Except one thing snagged them.  They didn’t have to factor in the examples from the step sorting activity.  In several of these problems, they did.  And they panicked.  “You didn’t teach us these ones!”  To which I replied, “Well technically I didn’t teach you any of them, you did.”  And yet another student stepped up to the plate and said, “It’s just like example 4 in the book. You factor like we did all last chapter.”

I’m so ecstatic that students were resourceful AND worked together!  Bonus that they were also able to do the math.

Hoo’s paying attention in class?

Boring looking classrooms drove me nuts in school. Stark walls, row after row of desks, and just a teacher sitting at an overhead projector or feverishly writing on a chalkboard. Even thinking back to that scene makes me sleepy!

Enter my classroom and you might find me near the front of the room at most times (working on that!) but my room will always feel inviting. Creating an atmosphere of learning looks different to everyone, but my style seems to surprise most. Mainly because I teach in high school, where students and parents expect boring classrooms. (I feel these photos don’t give the best angles, but using a phone and not my DSLR, I’ll take it!)

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I like your clouds!

Those that step foot for the first time instantly notice my light covers. Being a migraine sufferer, these partly cloudy blue sky filters make the lighting in the classroom closer to natural light than destructive fluorescent lighting ever can! (Ever notice how papers on the wall get discolored over the year in fluorescent lighting?)
Caribbean blue columns, engaging posters, inspirational quotes, cute cutout owls, mathy stuff, all fill up a good portion of my walls. The 2 extra whiteboards in my room are wonderful as well. Students that want to do a problem on the board but not in front the class have no issue with going to a side or rear board in the room.

IMG_8817.JPGAlgebra 1 students equation solving around the room.

And did I mention the cutout owls?Random huh? I’m a sucker for cute things, and when I had the chance to visit a supply store this summer that I’ve never been too, Mardel, I found matching folders, cutouts, and bathroom passes I couldn’t pass on!
I’m just now having students discover them in my room.

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How many do you think there are around my room?
And what makes your room environment special to you?