Algebra I Complete
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by Dorothy A. McCandliss
As a successful, CA credentialed math teacher in the home school market, I have been unencumbered by standards -- while working with them -- able to focus solely on teaching math for excellent results. My goal: excellent math instruction leading students having solid computational skills and clear theory, along with understanding the hidden “why’s” of math. For: success in higher math, high school chemistry and physics.
I have had the luxury of teaching and writing my Algebra 1 curriculum in small classes (8-15 students) for several years, adjusting and perfecting lessons until my students get it. Here are the major issues that make me different from the “regular” math teacher.
1. Math is a linear topic and can only be built upon a solid foundation of arithmetic skills. My students are placed in classes according to their skill level, not according to grade level.
2. My Algebra curriculum is designed around my original diagram: “Summary of Algebra I & II.” At the end of my Algebra 1 course, my students should be able to complete a problem given one of three instructions: simplify, solve, or graph. They are simultaneously taught computational skills and theory, “a road map,” for the process of doing algebra and are made responsible for knowing them. Review is built in naturally by the content structure.
3. Instructional methods: I have high expectations of my students. “I don’t know” isn’t a valid answer. Students explain the steps as far as they can go and then I’ll explain the part they don’t get. Using an “on-task” method of asking questions – any student may be asked to answer at any time – keeps classroom attention high.
4. Word Problems are grouped by patterns and each pattern taught individually. After practicing with several patterns, problems are mixed together in review. Students should be able to determine this kind of word problem and solve it.
5. Success in high school science (chemistry and physics) requires common algebra but not functions. Therefore, my Algebra 1 focuses on skills for high school algebra success. I introduce functions at the end of the school year to prepare students who will transition to other schools /textbooks the following year.
6. Testing: to adequately assess/diagnose student progress: quizzes & tests carefully sequenced to check computation skills and process skills in a linear progression. Students may retake tests and quizzes until they achieve mastery, except for the final exam.