No solutions in parallel lines: getting it to stick

Like most caring algebra teachers who have been at it for many years, there are very few algebra topics that I have difficulty getting a student to understand.  Teachers who are in tune with the learning process become aware of what makes a topic difficult and systematically remove barriers to understanding.  Getting concepts to stick, … More No solutions in parallel lines: getting it to stick

Queuing Analysis in Algebra: 21st Century Career Connections

Would the textbook publishers please step up?  Our students need to know how math is used in real jobs these days and I don’t have time to  research all that.  Sure, AutoCAD and other software replaces writing y=mx+b, but take a look at the algorithms in this video to understand one way linear equations are … More Queuing Analysis in Algebra: 21st Century Career Connections

Conics, Marriage, and Character Ed

While none of the G.PE standards in the Common Core are considered to be widely applicable prerequisite standards, I love the opportunities they present for SMP 5,7,8.  Before I tell my my students much of anything about conics, I send them to Desmos.com to explore circles, ellipses, hyperbolas, and inverse parabolas. They figure out how to use equations … More Conics, Marriage, and Character Ed

Absolute Value equations: “You are there” relevance

One of the most motivating experiences I can sometimes create for my students is a feeling of what it can be like as an adult in an interesting career.  The little extra time that kind of activity monopolizes is well spent.  The idea of absolute value is found everywhere something is being built or produced: … More Absolute Value equations: “You are there” relevance

Quadratic Curve Fitting in Market Analysis

This activity is designed to: explain the usefulness of the vertex form of a quadratic strengthen students’ graphing abilities extend understanding of scatter plots from fitting a line to fitting a curve connect what we do in the classroom to real jobs to increase motivation open gateways to 21st Century careers for students might be … More Quadratic Curve Fitting in Market Analysis

HS Math Instruction: Surprising similarities to digital art

As I continue my quest for student engagement in high school math, my eyes were opened this morning when I read a digital art curriculum.  I am now a convert that STEM should be STEAM.  Had I read the curriculum any other day, it may not have had the same effect as reading it today … More HS Math Instruction: Surprising similarities to digital art

Completing the Square: joy & motivation in quadratics

Somewhere within the quadratics unit students need to complete the square. This can easily be boiled down to a plug-and-chug exercise hammered into temporary memory, but it can also be one of the most memorable experiences of the quarter. Before my students have an opportunity to ask, “When are we ever…,” I start them off … More Completing the Square: joy & motivation in quadratics

When students just sit there, saying “What do I do?”

Why students won’t dig in Besides time constraints, one reason teachers hesitate to do explorations or problem-based learning is too many students won’t dig in.  The roadblock can be that the problem is waaaaaay over their heads.  But more likely, the students aren’t used to having to figure things out.  That’s a huge issue the … More When students just sit there, saying “What do I do?”