(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.


Plickers, with a “P”

Last week I handed out a 7 question pre-test to my Algebra 1 Concepts & Skills students.  Traditionally this course has student abilities ranging from pseudo understanding linear algebra down to using fingers to do single digit addition.  Over the years, students are exposed to algebra at an earlier age than with pass graduating classes.  The range of abilities continues to spread, and my pre-test confirmed that this trend lives on.  However, this time I was able to utilize my new favorite formative assessment tool and reached my conclusion on the ability range much sooner than in past years.

Collecting and deciphering abilities was much more timely and user friendly using Plickers.  If you are unfamiliar with Plickers, head over to the site and check it out after this post.  You won’t be disappointed!  Students appreciated being able to see the bar graph responses of their classmates, and it allowed for me to adjust how much time we went over a particular question if there was no clear common outcome.  Students were given the opportunity to talk with classmates and adjust their answers.  Discussion over common mistakes were being brought up and pointed out by students without any prompting from me.  I LOVED it!

Once my class rosters settle down, I plan on creating a set of Plicker cards for each class on card stock so each student can “own” their own card.

Also, if you do try this, let a student try scanning the class using your device.  Great sense of ownership over the activity!

The bird’s the word!

Well here I sit at the kitchen table, debating in my head over how to reflect upon #tmc14 (that’s Twitter Math Camp…and yes we saw ACTUAL people AND they like math!).  After reading Justin Aion‘s Twordle post and giving it a go myself, inspiration hit.  How do I use social media?

Facebook is my family/friends connection, “social research” location, and how I communicate with my Thirty-One sisters and run my business.  That was easy.

Instagram became my go to for cute dogs, food porn, and workout inspiration.

Pinterest became an obsession that turned out more “Pinterest-Fails” than anything else.  So now it is my go to for creative ideas.

Then there’s Twitter.  My very first post:

2014 twitter first tweet

I clearly had no idea what I was getting into!  I jumped into following all the celebrities (who doesn’t want to know what Conan O’Brien is up to these days?!), news affiliates, and the few actual people I knew on Twitter.  My Twordle of all my tweets is clearly evident of what I did the most of:

2014 Twitter Wordle

I obviously posted a lot of original content to Twitter over the last few years.  But if I remove that outlier (based on observation, not actual data), it looks more like this:

2014 twitter wordle no RT


(Did you know that @veganmathbeagle changed her name multiple times?)  Aside from retweeting, I used Twitter to communicate with my student aids, share random facts, and communicate with those I already talked to in real-life.

Being new to the Twitter Math Blogosphere, and exposed to alternate uses of Twitter, I suspect my Twordle will be greatly different in the years to come. Thank you for the inspiration and focus you have all provided me during TMC14.  I will use what I have learned as a jumping point, into the shallow end of the pool, I’ve learned that I can’t swim well enough to stick it out in the deep end.  I will slowly doggy paddle my way out into the depths, ever expanding my resources, connections, and viewpoints of how to improve upon my classroom abilities.  This is not to say that I will outright stop RT punny jokes 🙂

-T 🙂