It's been a while since I posted. The last week of February was our Junior Trip, in which we take all of our junior class on a 4-day-long trip around California to visit various CSU campuses. It's an incredibly important part of our program, because it is the time when our juniors really start to imagine themselves as college students. The tours, the student panels, seeing the dorms and classrooms, the admissions directors, and the DCP alumni all bring things into sharper focus for the 11th graders. We moved the trip earlier this year (it used to be in April) because kids come back inspired and ready to make positive changes, and so we wanted them to have more time to improve their grades before the end of the semester. It's also a great time for students and staff to bond and get to know each other in different ways. Needless to say, a 4-day, 3-night field trip with 80 high schoolers is tiring. We're all pretty much recovered now, and it's been back to business as usual. Time to catch up on some lesson postings.

In Algebra 2, we're nearing the end of the polynomials and factoring unit. I've been focusing on basic factoring techniques (look for the GCF first, then either use trinomial factoring or difference of squares, if possible). I'm still deciding whether to throw sum/difference of cubes into the mix this time around. I decided to bring simplifying and multiplying rational expressions into this unit (instead of waiting for the rationals unit) because it seemed like a good way to have them get more practice with factoring without repeating the same exact problems again and again. Plus, these questions are prominently featured on the STAR test.

One thing that has been helping students deal with factoring out the GCF is teaching them to write the prime factorization of each term in the polynomial, every time (including a -1 factor when there is a minus sign). Though it takes longer, this is pretty much a foolproof way of factoring out the GCF - many students have a lot of difficulty with the "what's the largest expression that divides into both" method.

Lesson 6 (Factoring the GCF and Trinomials) doc / keynote / quicktime

Lesson 7 (we used Algeblocks to get a better understanding of factoring trinomials) doc

Lesson 8 (Factoring Trinomials by Grouping) doc / keynote / quicktime