Review, More Review, Some Algebra II
We started a unit today on factoring in my Algebra II class, and we spent the morning learning to add, subtract and multiply polynomials.
"Who remembers from Algebra I, what you can do when you have a binomial times a binomial?" the teacher Tricia Colclaser asked. (If you need a refresher, think (x+1)(x-1).)
Some of the students were stumped. And FOIL -- one of the all-time famous algebra acronyms which tells you the order of how to solve it (First Outside Inside Last) -- was not ringing too many bells.
A lot of the work we have done in Algebra II this year is review of concepts that were introduced two years ago in Algebra I. (For me, it's all review... but that's different.)
Colclaser is part of a "vertical math team" this year. It's a committee of different grade level math teachers that meets to discuss how they can better organize the curriculum. How, to use a famous example, can we teach fractions in elementary school, so students are not still flummoxed by them in middle school and high school?
The math Standards of Learning, or the state-level teaching standards, are being revised, and committees like this are trying to rethink what they teach. One driving question that Colclaser has is why so many Algebra I concepts end up in Algebra II.
"Maybe we don't need to teach so much, Maybe we should just ask students to become experts in graphing lines and solving linear equations," she said. "I'm still saying to students, 'What's the slope??' and 'How do you find it?'"
She teaches factoring "like it's brand new," she said.
If you want to review the standards yourself, click here. There are 18 main concepts teachers are supposed to go through in Algebra I and about 20 in Algebra II. That's a lot of material to get through in a year...
Michael Alison Chandler
November 13, 2008; 10:14 AM ET
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