## Tuesday, April 2, 2013

### Intro to Quadratics — from "drab" to "fab" (or at least, to something less drab)

Recently, I created a new anchor lesson for my Algebra 1 quadratics unit. I found that, while I really liked the sequencing of activities and questioning in the NCTM Illuminations lesson on "Patterns and Functions," I found their situation and set-up simultaneously boring, contrived, and inane.

 Actual photograph of San Francisco monkeys hosting a tea party in the wild
As is so often the case, I find that a certain, judicious sprinkling of silliness and fun in the set-up can really liven up the lesson. A certain amount of contrivance is necessary in many activities, even those that are based on "real-world situations." So why not stretch the real world to make it conform to the needs of my algebra students?

The Made To Stick elements are all here: multiple access points are provided through manipulatives, storytelling, and humor.

My student investigation sheet, Table for Eighteen... Monkeys is available on Box.com. A PDF of the Table Tiles master is available here on Box.com
here.

Tiny plastic monkeys sold separately. :)

UPDATE: Worksheets now also on the Math Teacher's Wiki, at http://msmathwiki.pbworks.com/w/page/55614036/Algebra%201#view=page

1. Wish I were teaching beginning algebra so I could use this.

2. I am thick in the middle of Quadratics and would love to see this lesson. Um, I click on it and Box says I don't have access. Any suggestions?

3. Hmmm... Box.com seems to be misbehaving. I've also uploaded the files to the MS Math Teacher's Wiki, which ALWAYS works. The files are on the Algebra 1 page:

http://msmathwiki.pbworks.com/w/page/55614036/Algebra%201#

Or if the wiki gives you trouble:

and

http://msmathwiki.pbworks.com/w/file/65087472/tables-tiles%20MASTER.pdf

4. LOVE the monkeys! Thanks for sharing. I agree with your take on the NCTM Intro. Weird and pseudo-ey.

Having an introduction like yours, which is both concrete and entertaining makes a big difference for engagement and hopefully for retention of information as well. You've made it easy for us. Thanks.

Now to find some monkeys.
-Nat

1. Nat - My best sources for tiny plastic monkeys are Amazon Marketplace and/or eBay. Search for "tiny plastic monkeys" (I kid you not).

- Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

5. I used this as an introduction to graphing parabolas with my algebra 1 class.

We just used graph paper for most kids, a few used tiles to help them understand. It encouraged good discussions, and fresh from NCTM Denver, I employed good questioning related to CCSSMP3. How many tables can you draw? Are you sure you drew every possibility? How do you know? How long would a table have to be if we could put a 1/2 of a monkey at each end? Is this an assumption or are you sure? why?....etc.. It only took about 30 minutes and gave my students a good reference point as we dig into graphing quadratic equations. Thank you!

-Lisabej (@lisabej_manitou)

1. Lisabej - Thanks for letting me know how it went! I love your questioning sequences. I think "How do you know..." questions can be such rich prompts to encourage students to connect the various distinct elements they understand separately.

Do you have any favorite resources for good question stems? Or have you blogged about ones you find especially productive?

- Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)