##
* *Reflection: Rigor
What is Algebra? - Section 2: Discussion: An Historic Problem - reasoning abstractly and quantitatively

A Common Mistake on Problem 1:

Students wrote x^2 + 21 = 10*sqrt(x) instead of x^2 + 21 = 10x. I saw that the class was split about 50-50 on these two equations, so when one student asked me which one was correct, I responded by sending him to the board. He wrote down both equations, and then explained to us that he wasn’t sure which was correct but that he was inclined toward the former. He and some other students were helped when someone pointed out that since we used “x^2” for the square number, we should use “x” for its root.

We also used some numerical examples to help students understand the relationship between the “square” and the “root of the square”. They understood the concept but had trouble making use of the symbols correctly. To do this, I built on the class's understanding of the term "square" by asking them for an example of a square number. They suggested 25, so we tested that against the given criteria.

First, we added 21 to our square and wrote down "25 + 21". Next, we set this equal to "10 roots of the square". Since our square was 25, the class recognized that the "root of the square" must be 5, so we wrote down "25 + 21 = 10(5)". They immediately saw two things: first, that 25 was not the correct solution, and second that if we replaced our 25 with "x^2" we should also replace our 5 with "x", not "sqrt(x)".

One student also noticed that our square number would have to end in 9 so that the sum could be a multiple of 10. This led us to discover one of the solutions (x = 7), but we had to solve the equation explicitly to find the other. You can see some of these things in the attached copy of student work.

Additionally, very few students remembered how to solve a quadratic equation, but when one suggested using the Quadratic Formula they all recognized the formula and remembered how to apply it. The changes being made to the Geometry curriculum should provide future students with more algebra practice, so I hope this won't be such a problem in the future.

# What is Algebra?

Lesson 1 of 15

## Objective: Students will be able to explain why algebra needs definitions and axioms, what some of these first principles are, and what it means to "do algebra".

*45 minutes*

#### Homework

*10 min*

In the final 10 minutes of class, there are several things to accomplish.

First, I will assign the homework for the night, which is to complete the remaining two problems on the *Historic Algebra Problems* handout. This will be due at the beginning of class tomorrow.

Second, I will handout *The Weekly Workout *general guidelines along with the their first *Weekly Workout 1*. Quickly, I will explain the rationale behind the weekly workout - it's about staying strong through constant practice - and ask everyone to write the due date on the top of the assignment. It won't be easy, but I'll have to avoid getting side-tracked by lots of questions here!

Finally, I will pass out the class syllabus to all of the students, asking them to read it and share it with their parents. Their parents must send me an email sometime before Friday so that I know they are able to contact me if they need to, and so that I can contact them. This is *another *homework assignment!

It's important to write all of the assignments on the whiteboard and to make sure that the students copy the due dates into their planners, but it's also important to send them off with a smile and a big "Welcome to algebra!" at the end of class.

*expand content*

*Responding to Ruby Mercure*

Ruby,

The first year is tough, so hang in there! I've just shared a Dropbox folder with you that should have all of the Weekly Workouts from the year. Unfortunately, they are all pdf's, so you won't be able to edit them easily. I'd see if you can get hold of a worksheet-generating software to make your own (I used something from Kuta Software called "Infinite Algebra" or "Infinite Precalculus" to make these.) I'd also had a TA check the workouts for me as soon as they were turned in; she would simply mark the incorrect answers, and then I could review these specific problems and more easily zero-in on where my students were still struggling. It's important that you look at not only WHAT your students get wrong, but WHY. That's the only way you'll be able to help them.

Good luck!

Jacob

| one year ago | Reply*Responding to Ruby Mercure*

Ruby,

The first year is tough, so hang in there! I've just shared a Dropbox folder with you that should have all of the Weekly Workouts from the year. Unfortunately, they are all pdf's, so you won't be able to edit them easily. I'd see if you can get hold of a worksheet-generating software to make your own (I used something from Kuta Software called "Infinite Algebra" or "Infinite Precalculus" to make these.) I'd also had a TA check the workouts for me as soon as they were turned in; she would simply mark the incorrect answers, and then I could review these specific problems and more easily zero-in on where my students were still struggling. It's important that you look at not only WHAT your students get wrong, but WHY. That's the only way you'll be able to help them.

Good luck!

Jacob

| one year ago | Reply*Responding to Jacob Nazeck*

Hi Jacob,

Thank you so much! I think my students will benefit greatly from it. I understand that they were tailored to fit your students needs. I am a first year teacher, and so your resources have been helping me tremendously. If you could dropbox them to me, my email is rubyhmercure@gmail.com. Thanks so much again, Ruby.

| one year ago | Reply*Responding to Ruby Mercure*

Ruby,

I'm glad to hear you're using the Weekly Workout - it made a huge difference for my students. If you'd like, I can share the rest of the Workouts with you. The thing to remember is that they were "custom made" to fit the pace of my own class and the specific order in which we covered things. Like you know, this can vary from class to class, so they may not fit your own class perfectly. Still, I'm happy to share them with you via dropbox if you'd like.

Jacob

| one year ago | Reply

Hi Jacob, I am wondering, where are the other weekly workouts? I have been looking through many of the other lessons but can't seem to find any. Would love to keep them going but have only assigned the first so far!

Thank you so much

| one year ago | Reply

Hi Jacob, This is Mauricio from the 8th grade team. I'm teaching an Alg 2 class this year and decided, among the others, to use your curriculum. Just wanted to share that with you. After going through the rest of them, I feel more comfortable with yours. I may be reaching out to you for questions or comments, though probably not. Hope all is well,

Cheers

| 2 years ago | Reply*expand comments*

##### Similar Lessons

###### Inequalities: The Next Generation

*Favorites(3)*

*Resources(19)*

Environment: Suburban

###### Graphing Systems of Linear Inequalities (Day 1 of 2)

*Favorites(14)*

*Resources(16)*

Environment: Urban

###### Brainstorming Algebraic Expressions

*Favorites(5)*

*Resources(15)*

Environment: Urban

- UNIT 1: Modeling with Algebra
- UNIT 2: The Complex Number System
- UNIT 3: Cubic Functions
- UNIT 4: Higher-Degree Polynomials
- UNIT 5: Quarter 1 Review & Exam
- UNIT 6: Exponents & Logarithms
- UNIT 7: Rational Functions
- UNIT 8: Radical Functions - It's a sideways Parabola!
- UNIT 9: Trigonometric Functions
- UNIT 10: End of the Year

- LESSON 1: What is Algebra?
- LESSON 2: The Music Shop Model, Day 1 of 2
- LESSON 3: The Music Shop Model, Day 2 of 2
- LESSON 4: Letters & Postcards, Day 1 of 2
- LESSON 5: Letters & Postcards, Day 2 of 2
- LESSON 6: Choose Your Own Adventure
- LESSON 7: What Goes Up, Day 1 of 3
- LESSON 8: What Goes Up, Day 2 of 3
- LESSON 9: What Goes Up, Day 3 of 3
- LESSON 10: The Constant Area Model, Day 1 of 3
- LESSON 11: The Constant Area Model, Day 2 of 3
- LESSON 12: The Constant Area Model, Day 3 of 3
- LESSON 13: Practice & Review, Day 1 of 2
- LESSON 14: Practice & Review, Day 2 of 2
- LESSON 15: Unit Test