Recently, I taught completing the square to my Algebra 2 classes. This has traditionally been something that they have struggled with over the years. I have always felt like I have explained it well, but it didn't tend to stick with them. Not long before I was about to teach it, Glenn Waddell had blogged about guided notes that he was implementing in his classes. I took his idea and modified it a little. I really want my students to be doing some of the writing of the notes. So, this is what I gave my students:
For the first example of each type of problem, I set up notes for them to fill in that explained each step. The pdfs below shows what my notebook slides looked like after the two class periods I taught completing the square. (If you look at the actual documents, things line up much better)
When I tested both my Advanced Algebra 2 students and my Algebra 2 students (who I did x^2 quadratics, not 2x^2, etc.), they actually did fairly well with it. I think that's the first time that's happened in my 20 years of teaching. In addition, when I got to rewriting quadratic equations into vertex form (using completing the square), they remembered how to do completing the square without too much cajoling. Yay!
I have continued to do these kind of notes with my all my Algebra 2 classes for each topic. I think they are helping them to better understand what we're doing. Thanks Glenn for the suggestion! Yet another reason why I love the blogosphere and Twitter - I have learned so much from each of you. Thanks!