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9th-11th Grade Math - Quadratic Functions

Clip 17/18: Quadratic Functions Class Context - Part A


Barbara Shreve and her colleague Phil Tucher discuss what the course "Algebra Success" is.

Algebra 1 is a major gatekeeper for students. Schools and math departments are faced with the challenge of preparing more and more students to be successful in Algebra. This lesson illustrates a coaching relationship centered on addressing and supporting the needs of students who have struggled in Algebra. Intervention classes are becoming more common in schools. This lesson and coaching episode focus on an algebra intervention class and the way to raise the level of mathematical thinking student are engaged in.

Teacher Commentary

The students had been working in the regular Algebra 1 classes on quadratic equations. In that work students had learned algebraic procedures such as factoring quadratic expressions, finding the roots of a quadratic equation (x-intercepts), using the quadratic formula, and graphing parabolas. Often students learn each procedure in isolation of others and seldom connect the ideas and methods together. The teacher, Barbara Shreve, created a lesson to help students reflect on these different procedures and learn to make connection with how they are related and when to use one procedure over another. She uses a powerful lesson technique, re-engagement, where she poses methods used by different characters. The students must analyze each character’s work to make sense of whether the solution is right and then justify their claim. She also included an activity that asks students to match the test question prompts with the first step they might take the solve the problem. This lesson could be considered a re-engagement lesson because it takes ideas students have been taught and re-visits them by posing the mathematical ideas in student work. The class is required to analyze the student work and make sense of what is right or what is wrong and why. This engages students in high cognitive work.