Sunday, March 21, 2010

Notes Again?

I'm having a hard time with Algebra IB students. They are sophomores in their second year of Algebra I. My school teaches traditionally, although the students all used the Connected Math program through middle school. To not mess up the students too much, I try to follow our department basic lesson plan: review homework, lecture, allow students to do homework.

I always add in warm-up problems at the beginning of each lesson. This week, as we're working on factoring polynomials and the students are asking me why they need to know how to factor, so to sneak in an extra tidbit, I decide to throw up some basic solving for x problems. The expressions are factored into binomials and set equal to zero, so the students only have to realize that to multiply to make zero, one of the two binomials needs to be equal to zero. After that connection, it would be a very simple solving a linear equation problem.

It was pure mutiny. The students yelled, screamed, banged their heads on the desk. They accused me of being a fraud, for not lecturing to them about how to do something as complicated as this and just expecting them to be able to find the answer on their own, even after I walked them through one of the problems. They wanted notes, a step by step guide to follow.

I guess I should have seen this coming. These are the same students that don't allow me to start a new lesson by trying a problem or two and having us work together to come up with the method to solve all problems like this one. They have trained me that I need to first write out the steps and then we can try to attack the problem as a class, which takes all of the fun out learning math in my opinion.

Once the tears had dried, they asked for a project about factoring. Any ideas?


  1. I'm not sure how this could turn into a project but this is what came to my mind...
    Could students explore how factoring is connected to area models or diamond problems?

  2. I think that's what I'm going to have to try. When first introducing the multiplying of binomials, I tried using rectangles but again, my students said, "Just show me the steps. None of this fancy geometry needs to be involved." I pushed them through several examples, so hopefully they'll recognize it when we play with algebra tiles and start working backwards. We'll see!

    Thanks for the idea, Sarah!