Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Small Success

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!


Mr. Flynn said...

I like what you have done. I notice that you use a smart board. Consider color coding your work. What I mean is to use colors to make things stand out. (i.e. do all work in red and the simplification in blue)
2x-5 = 9 (blue)
+5 +5 (red)
2x = 14 (blue)
/2 /2 (red)
x = 7 (blue)

My students have found color coding to be one of the biggest helps when looking over what we have done in class as well as following along.

John Golden said...

Nice post!

Do you see the form notes as a transition phase or as a comfortable level? Can you tell if any of the effect is novelty or if the structure was what made the difference?

Lisa said...

Mr. Flynn - At the time I was doing these notes, the blue was the only color not being weird on my board. I just got the board fixed last week. I generally like to use color and I like your suggestion. I'll have to work that in.

John - I'm not sure right now. Personally, I'd rather it was a transition, but since I started it mid-year and this group has been so low, it will probably continue the rest of the year. I think I'll have a better idea after our quiz Friday.

Thanks for the compliment! I appreciate it!