Day 172: Substitution Puzzles

For the last few weeks I have been using half the period on Fridays to review. A couple of weeks ago I came across some great puzzles at MathArugments180 (the actual credit seems to go to Mimi). These helped students ease back into solving systems by substitution today. I want to also make a note here for next year to use these as a follow up to Noah’s Ark.


A colleague showed me these puzzles about 4 months ago also… I missed out not using ’em earlier.


Day 171: Graphs

The last week of algebra consists of an introduction to statistics. They start the whole process by reviewing (for most) how to interpret graphs. Normally, this isn’t a very exciting process but I found some fun graphs to spice things up.

First I put up a blank slate and them ’em guess what it could be:


Turned out to be something like grams of fat for ingredients of a sandwich.

After we went through all the different types of graphs, here are my favorite examples of each:





Gotta keep content interesting with the end of the year looming….

Day 170: Programming

Algebra is wrapping up work with the quadratic formula. Today we went over how to write a program for the quadratic formula on Ti calculators.

I started ’em off with a step-by-step explanation of writing a program to find the slope of a line between any two given points. After testing it a few times, I passed around this sheet of code;


Students either went at it themselves or looked up to the smartboard where I was working through writing the program with a document camera. I know there are programs out there with less lines of code and if then commands for the discriminant, but for only one day of programming I felt this was more than enough.

They then used the program to correct an assignment from yesterday. For the last 5 minutes of class, we worked through writing code for this mystery program:


Day 169: Pizza Doubler

Geometry started sectors and arc length today. I used Dan’s Pizza Doubler to introduce sectors.


Students stepped up to the extension question of “Would the best coupon for the slice above work for all slices or just some slices? Tell me under what circumstances I should use one coupon or the other”



Don’t ask me about the chicken…



Day 167: Tough.

At the moment, 90% of my students are passing.

By the end of the year, I believe that will drop to around 85% or so; those are the ones that I really feel good about moving onto either Geometry (where algebra will go) or Algebra II (where geometry will go).

I see a students mathematical understanding as a tower. At the beginning of the year, we lay down a large base/foundation by reviewing arithmetic, integer operations and two/multi step equations. The larger the base a student has, the more content they can handle though out the year.

After a couple weeks we hit a point where a majority of students are ready to move on, and in doing so some are unable to establish the necessary base. A couple of ’em move over to pre-algebra, but I believe in these students abilities to succeed, I want to keep them in my classes unless it is 100% clear they need to be re-placed.

Fast-forward to 34 weeks later and those little holes in understanding that we tried to patch along the way have turned into large tears. I am not quite sure how to patch them. We have three weeks left in the school year, is it worth the time to go back and review what the product of a positive and negative number is… daily?

I feel like I am really just dodging this question:

What do I do with the students who I know are not going to pass this year? 

I believe in them… I really do…

But, I would be doing a disservice to them if I inflate their grade and let them into geometry/algebra II knowing that as hard as they try, they are unable to solve a two/three step equation, much less a system of equations or quadratic.

The Quadratic Formula is not the place to teach anyone about integer operations or the order of operations, but with a select group of students this is happening. The obvious answer is to give them a worksheet or some form of remediation on this. But, they also need work on solving equations and everything else that has lead up to where we are in class at the moment; that would take months.

Right now I am pushing the failing students forward. Each period, it feels like I am taking 24 students and shoving them through a doorway that they won’t all fit through.

Day 165: Dandy Candies II

Geometry finished up Dandy Candies from yesterday.

My district has a cross curriculum writing protocol that pretty much all students understand. I had my group write a paragraph analyzing if there was a better packaging option out there than the four we looked at yesterday.

They did a great job on their paragraphs, I was impressed with the level of understanding and reasoning they put into the problem.