Friday, October 17, 2014

Best Algebra 2 course

So I have been putting a lot of thought into what makes a great Algebra 2 course (or maybe just a better course than we currently offer).  How it aligns to standards but more importantly how it makes sure students are ready for secondary math and career.

My school has the sequence of Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 -- an important fact when reading what I am considering/debating/generally thinking about.  Also they may be named by the "college admission's math Triforce names" but it really is more of a Math 1, 2, 3 - integrating Algebra and Geometry in each course.

My courses proceed more slowly and have a greater emphasis on understanding than a lot of syllabuses I have reviewed.  That coupled with high expectations of learning material once and using often means my year begins with very little review ---- cause what they have done they know and relearning (re reviewing) does not need to happen.

And this year after 6 weeks - I am already about ~40% completed with our Algebra 2 text (because it simply has so much review).  This pace did not happen all at once, it happened slowly.  This process has taken 6 years (when I started nine years ago - this material took nearly 6 months).  Now when we do a topic/subject in Algebra 1 or Geometry we commit to learning it deeply (and thus slowly).  We learn, understand something once and then use it recursively.  And now I don't re-teach Algebra 1 or basic Geometry or Trig in Algebra 2 and that raises the question - what should I be doing now?

Hind sight is always 20/20 -- and I could have easily done the material covered in Algebra 2 in less time - but now I am getting the exciting thoughts of other things I can do.  Now in the past my Math 1,2,3 sequence has just covered the basics of statistics and probability.  Which my text does a poor job with too.

Like a lot of Algebra 2 texts there is review of exponents, elimination/substitution/graphing -- what I really want to add is real life stats and probability (more than the odds of pulling a red ball out of a urn).   So now I am searching for materials to integrate....

And as I find materials - I will start making changes, because it is just part of the long term mission to improve each course each year - by just a little (2% better every year is my mantra).  Because true improvement in curriculum takes years not months.