Posts Tagged ‘Algebra 3’


Algebra 3 Standards

July 14, 2014

StephReilly (@reilly1041) asked if I could post some of my material from Algebra 3, which gives me something to write about–yay!

a3bookBackground: When Texas went to requiring four years of math, my district decided to add an “Algebra 3” course. My instructions were to create a class that was beyond Algebra 2 and that could prepare students for college algebra. We picked a great textbook, which I generally followed.

Problem Solving StrategiesI also wanted to have my students practice problem solving, so about twice per six weeks, they had a problem set assigned. These were problems I (mostly) found from Problem Solving Strategies, which is a really great book. I liked these problems, because the math is fairly simple, but the thinking is not. I would give them one class day to work on the problems, and one week to get them finished and turned in.

Here’s what I ended up with for my standards (objectives):
Read the rest of this entry ?


Cool Matrix Multiplication!

August 6, 2012

I had marked this post in my Reader feed to bookmark later, but Sam’s recent post inspired me to post about it sooner, rather than later.

For some unknown and mysterious reason, I have always loved matrices. Maybe it’s because my high school let me take it as an independent study class when I was a junior, or maybe because as a slightly-OCD-type person, I like seeing the numbers all nicely lined-up. Love of matrices also worked well in the 23+ years I spent as a database programmer (FOR-NEXT loops and 2-dimensional arrays are your friends).

Since I began teaching math eight years ago, and hooking back up with matrices and matrix operations, I was somewhat distressed to learn that I have forgotten a lot of what I used to know; moreover, I have a horrible time remembering the quirks for multiplication. This is why I think CalcDave’s post is so brilliant. Lookee:
Why didn't I ever think of this?

This makes so much sense! It also makes it easy to spot when the multiplication won’t work. I just wish matrices got more respect. The Texas standards (TEKS) for Algebra II only mention matrices once, and that is in the context of solving systems of equations (which means using a calculator). **sigh**

I teach Algebra III, which is an elective course that is designed to a) address the needs of students who are on an honors track, but aren’t ready/willing/able to take Precalculus and b) make sure students are prepared for College Algebra. Because it is an elective and there are no state standards, I have a pretty free rein in what I teach. I usually do a mini-unit on matrices, but not in very much depth. I think this method is inspiring me to maybe stretch it out a little more. From a placate-the-administrator standpoint, there are some nice TEKS (standards) for an elective course called Advanced Quantitative Reasoning that explicitly mention arrays and matrix manipulation that I might want to look into.


Algebra 3 Project Ideas

July 9, 2011

I have decided to have my A3 classes do an in-class “project” at the end of each six weeks. My reasons for this are:

  • It gives me an extra day to play with in case anything has to slide for some reason.
  • It provides something a little more “hands-on” in a class that is very abstract.
  • I like the idea of decompressing a little at the end of each six weeks.

In order for this to work, I need to come up with/find/steal some interesting things to do that I can loosely relate to A3.

Ideas so far

  • String art
  • Circle designs
  • Fractals
  • Deb’s paper folding thing
  • Origami

Ideas and Changes

June 29, 2011

Since I can’t get to sleep …


  • Move the “AGENDA” over to the small blackboard and split it so that I can put both Geometry and Algebra 3 agendas up.
  • Use the punch out letters for the date.
  • Put a sign by the calculators: “If your assigned calculator is missing, please inform Ms. Miller immediately.”
  • Buy some corks for the compasses.
  • Put an objective list on the back of the calendars.
  • Make “New Student” packets for each class.
  • DOMAIN/RANGE poster!


  • Change warm-ups to be part of their classwork grade — 10 = 100%
  • In order to let them use their notebooks during the quizzes and still do notebook checks, go around during the quiz and check them while they are working.
    • Have them tape the checklist to the inside front cover of their spirals.
    • Use the checklist to figure their grade and then list the grade on the roll sheet.

Algebra 3

  • Have them read the section before the lecture.
  • Number by objective with the book section in parentheses.
  • Use a timer for the quiz.
  • After the B-day quiz, upload solutions for the homework.
  • Assign calculators.
  • I want problem sets to always be on Friday. This means that A and B classes may be on slightly different schedules.
    • On A-weeks, the A-day schedule would be lecture-quiz-problem set, while B-day would be lecture-quiz. The following week would then flip the schedule so that B-day would be lecture-quiz-problem set (ahead of A-day). Is this workable?
  • Look at shifting the topic list around to follow the same sequence as the textbook.
  • Definitely spend more time reviewing/practicing solving quadratics!

Ideas for Next Year

June 8, 2011
  • Make two supply buckets
    • Algebra 3: straight edges, compasses, pencil sharpeners, colored pencils
    • Geometry: straight edges, pencil sharpeners, markers (in plastic case), vocabulary squares, scissors, glue
  • On A3, check homework at the beginning of class, thengo over it. Make the “Turn in” problems the official homework problems and the other problems “Additional Practice”
    • This should allow more time to do stuff after the quiz.
    • Post solutions to the homework problems after the quiz on B day.
  • More classwork!
  • More games in Geometry
  • Play card games in A3.

End of Year Post

June 8, 2011

It’s once again time for the end-of-the-year review! I’m going to reflect on the courses first, and then do a separate post on SBG.

Algebra 3
This was the first year this course was offered in our district, and I was given a pretty free hand in developing the curriculum I taught.

  • Coming in, there was a huge discrepancy between what I expected the students to know and what they demonstrated that they knew.
  • Once I started getting behind, it was very difficult to catch back up.
  • I originally set up the pacing because I wanted to spend lots of time on each topic, but it never seemed to work out that way.
  • On a related note, I got locked into a rut and never seemed to have time to do anything but lecture or quiz.
  • I totally sold out on homework.
  • Not enough students came in to reassess.


  • The textbook turned out even better than I had thought. I may not use Foerster much at all next year, except for classwork.
  • I’m really happy with the way most of my powerpoints turned out.
  • I think it worked really well uploading the notes to the website. Especially now that I’ve got them mostly done, I should be able to upload them sooner next year.
  • I really liked the problem sets. I think they made a nice change-of-pace.
  • It was fun teaching seniors and then getting to see them graduate.


  • Not enough students came in to reassess.
  • In spite of my best efforts, I still wasn’t able to permit enough time in class for practice. Too much lecture, not enough doing!
  • Too many students left behind.
  • Make-up work was difficult to manage.
  • Giving the quizzes at the beginning of class may have been too abrupt a start to the class.
  • I didn’t do any special projects this year.
  • It’s somewhat amazing to me that students who have cell phones and fancy clothes don’t have the money to buy spirals and pencils. **sigh**
  • S is leaving me!


  • I really liked the “interactive notebook”. For the most part, the students did very well keeping track of everything.
  • The notebook also seemed to keep most of the students engaged during notes. We had very few students off-task.
  • I liked the grading percentages (although I think I will bring the quiz grade down to 50% to add in a classwork percentage).
  • The supply and trash buckets worked really well. I definitely would not have wanted to do foldables without them!
  • Doing the quizzes as warm-ups saved quite a bit of time, as well as giving us time to do notebook checks.

M&M Catapult

February 18, 2011

Before I forget about it, I want to jot down my reflections on the M&M catapult project we just did in my Algebra III class. I used Sean Sweeney’s revised catapult design, which I think turned out pretty well (although I’m still not sure how he attached the back braces to the clothespin).

Good Stuff

  • The kids really seemed to get into this. I put them in groups of four, and we went downstairs to the Promenade (a long, fairly deserted hallway). They immediately got down to work, making their test shots, measuring distances, and such.
  • I had almost no discipline problems with them (except for the presence of the ice cream bar machine), and there was very little “off-topic” shooting.
  • The catapults held up very well. I think if I rebuild them, I may try using two clothespins for the main lever arm to increase its stability.
  • One group did hit the bullseye using their calculations.

Bad Stuff

  • Only one group hit the bullseye using their calculations.
  • They had some troubles getting a consistent flight. I don’t know whether the problem was with the M&Ms or the catapults. In addition to adding an additional clothespin, I might try the Gobsmackers next year, since they are round.
  • When they were actually shooting, the whole group was involved. Unfortunately, when they began working on the equations, most groups left everything up to their Recorder. I’ll need to address that next year.
  • I did a poor job of preparing them for this. I should have introduced this the class period before we did this, and I should have explained more what we were doing. I think my directions were fairly clear, but the students had no idea where we were going.
  • In addition to not knowing what was going on, the students were pretty clueless about the math involved. To me, this is the major failure of the project. I was pretty shocked that I would tell a senior to “solve for y”, and she would look at me completely clueless. Finding the equation for the catapult should not have been that hard!

On the whole, I thought this was a cool idea that would have been even better with more preparation. I’m definitely going to do this next year!