At TMC14 (Twitter Math Camp 2014) this year I did not attend many sessions, because I was the co-lead or lead in several blocks of time. It was great, and the comments I received were very complementary. I think the teachers telling me that were just being nice a little bit, but I hope they did receive some benefit from attending. With that said, the first thing I want to do in my TMC Recap posts is communicate some of what occurred in the sessions.

First up, Algebra 2. I co-led these sessions (there were 3 days of 2 hours each) with Jonathon Claydon (@rawrdimas) who blogs over at InfiniteSums. The 3 days were split into the following structure. Day 1 was about how to teach algebra 2 with some structure and form so that you can connect all the disparate topics of Alg 2. Day 2 was about a different way of cycling through the topics to allow for constant review and building of knowledge (pivot algebra), while day 3 as all about modeling.

Day 1 started off with the question, “How do you currently teach alg 2?” We had several answer. Graphing all the parent functions and creating a hook to hang the rest of the year that way (Family of Functions), or solving the equations and connecting the graphs later (equations first), going through the textbook units and color coding them, and then I introduced my (h, k) format. There was great interest in the (h, k) structure so we spent the rest of the time on that method.

What is that method, you ask? Well, on my board under the heading of Algebra 2, I have the following forms written down:

First off, what do you notice and wonder about all these forms? Yes, I do ask that and spend some class time on the noticings and wonderings about this list. I actually have a “You are Here” note that moves from one to the next to the next as we go through Alg 2 and I make a big deal about that move.

The really nice thing about organizing the class in this way is that clearly the learners are learning ONE set of math operations, not 12. The amazing similarity between all of these forms encourages the learners to actually look at the math and ask “what is the same, what is different” and STOP thinking “all of this is different each time.” It takes some work, but the learners figure out that my 3 rules (the ONLY 3 rules I allow them to use/ write/ or say in class) are how ALL of these functions are solved. [make sure you read the comments too]

Also, shown (but not handed out) during the session was how I consolidate all of the maths for all of the functions and what I expect for every single function listed. It looks like this:

All of the links for the handouts and materials are on the TwitterMathCamp Wiki site. If you want this handout or any other handouts from TMC, please feel free to download them.

My goal with this process is getting the learners to think of math as ONE body of knowledge and not a segmented series of things we memorize. We LEARN how to factor, how to graph, how to identify points on a graph, and we USE that same knowledge over and over again.

I have had some success with this last year and I am looking forward to doing it again and blogging about it as I go. Yes this means I am planning on blogging more. That is one goal I have for the year. It was created because of this article on the secret to writing. (hint, there isn’t one.)