Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Common Core Implementation

Our math department has been meeting regularly to plan our first implementation of Common Core in Algebra 1 next year (2013/2014).  We looked at several different scope and sequence documents, but we've decided to use our current curriculum as a starting point.  We will be removing the units that don't appear in the Algebra 1 CCSS (review of pre algebra, rational expressions, etc) and replacing it with a Stats Unit and a Modeling with Functions Unit.  We will be using the Oconee County Statistics Unit that we found on, here's the link

Oconee County Statistics Unit

Math Equations to LaTex

I'm working on an online book with my class, one of the tricky bits is converting math equations to LaTex in the book's editor. Jeanette Stein's is an INCREDIBLY useful site, I found a good LaTex converter in there after she mentioned it in a web chat room last night. Here it is.


White boards for adding and subtracting polynomials

This wasn't an earth shaking lesson plan, but I thought it went well.  I gave an introduction to polynomials, the vocab and the difference between solving and evaluating.  Then they all took a whiteboard and I had them tell me the degree and name of a polynomial that I wrote on the board.  The fun of the whiteboards is that they all hold up their answer and, POOF, there's some quality formative assessment.  Once they had that, we evaluated polynomials for specific values of x.  Same drill, hold up the whiteboards with your answer.  It's good to see where they're at and we all feel part of the conversation that way.  More students get pulled in and it's fun.  Next, I introduced addition of polynomials and they practiced with the whiteboards.  Same deal with subtraction.  The day ended with each student picking up a strip with a polynomial on it.  I paired them up and they added the polynomials on the whiteboards.  Students were picked at random to show their whiteboards on the ELMO document camera.  That game went on with different pairing and different operations for the duration of class.  Here's my sheet with the polynomial strips on it.

Polynomial strips for adding and subtracting by

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mid Year Status

I've changed the name of this blog to reflect what my goals are.  All of my posts have been related to updating my Algebra 1 class to reflect modern trends.  I think education is in the process of a major transformation that has primarily been brought about by the internet.  Information is now much easier to access and it also easier for people to communicate around that information.  This brings so many changes and I think public education has to find meaningful ways to adapt.

The first thing I'm doing is creating central locations online where all of my classroom materials are located.  I am consolidating all of my materials onto a shared drive at my school where all of  my colleagues can have access to them.  I have also created a website for my algebra class using our school's Wordpress platform.  Here's a link:

EHS Algebra 1 Site

I'm a big fan of all things Google, but I don't like how their sites are so tailored to their applications.  I have years of material from my pre-Google doc days and Wordpress gives me greater flexibility in how I present material created using a large number of platforms.  Each day's classroom activities are posted online along with the class notes that I give using a SMART Board.

Our math dept is in the process of transitioning to the Common Core and I feel one the big changes that can happen at this time is that the textbook manufacturers will no longer have so much control over our curriculum.  To that end, I'm writing a textbook using the modules created at  Here is a link to the latest version of the book, I pieced it together over the summer and I'm finalizing it a chapter at a time as the year goes on.  I'm pretty happy with chapters 1-5 in this version

EHS Algebra 1 Book

Next year, we will be implementing Common Core based units on statistics and modeling with functions.  I plan on modifying my existing book to match the new curriculum.

It is also very easy for educators to communicate with each other now, that's one the main purposes of this blog.  I post things that work for me and I use great ideas from educators the world over.  This seems very transformative to me and I'm happy to be on board.

I also think technology has the power to help individualize student's education and I'm trying out ALEKS in this capacity.  It's a program that uses the concept of knowledge spaces to find out where a student is at and assesses them on the material they are ready to learn.  I have been using it successfully since August 2012 and I feel it's a step in the right direction.  My students use ALEKS in a very positive way and I think it's helping them master concepts.  It has yet to result in increased grades in my class, but I still think it is helping them.

Something I'd like to pursue next year is Standards Based Grading.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do it yet, any suggestions would be welcomed, but I think it's an important step in creating individualized instructions.