Algebra 2 Twitter Chat! Thursday, 9/8/16 at 9PM EST #Alg2Chat

The first Algebra 2 chat will be on this Thursday, 9/8/16 at 9:00 PM, EST.  The topic this week will be Student Engagement.  What can we do to get students excited about mathematics (even if they don’l love Algebra 2)?

The chats will happen once a week on Thursdays at 9PM on Twitter at the hashtag #Alg2Chat.

If you have never participated in a Twitter Chat before, you can read this post for tips!

Topics for this month:

9/8/16 – Student Engagement

9/15/16 – Rich Problems for Algebra 2

9/22/16 – Making Groups Work

9/29/16 – How You Use Technology


Algebra 17 Magazine Mock Up

This should be titled, “Things I Should NOT Be Doing on My Last Day of Summer Break”!  But this was too fun, so I had to!  THIS is just one of the many, many reasons that you should be active on Twitter if you are a math teacher!

It all started with this tweet from Meg about this picture on my Algebra Review blog post.

That lead to a series of hilarious tweets by Meg and Mattie. And then the challenge, which I quickly accepted.

Well, I just did the cover.  I mean, it IS my last day of summer break!

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Featured are two of my amazing algebra students from last year.


Even though I just did the cover, wouldn’t it be so much fun to write this for real??  I would LOVE for you to join in on the fun and add a fun story title.  Or even better, WRITE AN ARTICLE.  How awesome and fun would this be to share with our students?  We should write REAL articles to help them, but with a funny spin.  Humor helps everything.  🙂

** Update: I showed the featured student the cover. Not only did she love it, she offered to write an article!  Wouldn’t this be a fun assignment for our students?

Here is a Tweet by Tweet account of how the action played out on Twitter today.  Read below or click to view it on Storify.

Algebra 1 Concepts Review for Algebra 2 Students

Our school is still on the traditional curriculum.  Our students do Algebra 1, then Geometry, then Algebra 2.  I’m sure that they remember everything from two years ago, but just in case, I always try to be a little proactive at the beginning of the year.  Last year I incorporated Delta Math at the beginning of the year for students to practice basics and Algebra 1 skills on a weekly basis.  I found it immensely beneficial as it reacquainted the students with skills they had learned in the past, but needed refreshing. This enabled me to spend more class time on Algebra 2, instead of reviewing Algebra 1.

For this year, I decided to extend that program by starting in the summer.  My school allows students to take any class they have the pre-requisite for, even if they were not recommended.  We have two levels of Algebra 2, and I teach the more advanced level. I have a fair number of students this year that were not recommended for the advanced Algebra 2 class, but have chosen to take it.  So, I must be deliberate in structuring Algebra review and support so that these students can have the greatest chance of success in my class.

Optional Algebra 1 Summer Assignment on Delta Math:  There is one question per topic (40 topics total).  The questions range from rounding to factoring.  I did not want to make it too difficult, as I do not want students frustrated over the summer.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 4.16.36 PMThere is only one assigned question per skill, but since it is on Delta Math students can answer multiple questions if they would like more practice on a certain skill.  As you can see, this student choose to do multiple problems on several skills, even though I only assigned one.


It only shows the number of CORRECT problems in the Record.


In the overview I can also see which skills students felt they needed to practice more.

Pre-Assessment:  In the first week back I will give my students a pre-assessment on Algebra 1 skills similar to the problems from the Delta Math Assignment.  I grade the pre-assessment by assigning each skill a concept score, B(Beginning), D(developing), or P(Proficient).  This will help them determine which Algebra skills they need more practice on.  I do not record the pre-assessment score in my grade book.  They will retest in at a later date for an actual grade.

Algebra 1 Concepts Review :

After the pre-assessment students need to review (or relearn) concepts so they can strengthen their Algebra skills and have more success on the upcoming Algebra assessment.  I teach freshmen and sophomores and I know it is difficult for some students to do this on their own, so I provide the following to support them.

  • I have an Algebra 1 Concepts Review Sheet that I will give to all of my students.
  • I hold help sessions during lunch and after school to help students with basic algebra skills they are still struggling with.
  • I leave the Delta Math Algebra 1 Review Summer Assignment up so students can keep working on skills.

Here is my Algebra 1 Concepts Review Sheet. 🙂

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Algebra 2 Monthly Blog Spot

I can’t wait to read about everything other Algebra 2 teachers are planning and doing in their classrooms! I thought it would be fun if we all blogged and then I could post a compilation of our blogs about once a month.

I would love for us to blog about how your curriculum is organized (sequence of topics).  I think it would be great to see as it seems we are all usually teaching the same topics at about the same time.
Other great ideas for blog posts could be:

  • First day / first week activities
  • Goals for this year
  • Great icebreakers
  • Math class set-up

You don’t have to choose!  If you go crazy and want to blog about all of them, please do!  Submit every post to the form below and I will post them all!  And don’t forget to tweet out your post with the #Alg2Chat hashtag.  Also, if you are in a blogging frenzy, check out #MTBoSblaugust, and include that hashtag to your post as well!  You don’t have to wait, you can get started now!  🙂

Join us on Twitter and even with blogging!

Please join us on Twitter at #Alg2Chat.  If you aren’t on Twitter yet, now is a GREAT time to start.  You will be amazed at the resources that will come right to you!  Also, if you have always wanted to start a blog, do it!  We have a great website, Exploring The MTBoS, that can help you with both!

Algebra 2 Math Chats (#Alg2Chat) Coming in September!  Thursday nights at 9PM EST

Check out #Alg2Chat Thursday nights at 9PM EST, beginning in September.  If you are interested in helping moderate, or have some great topics you would like to discuss, please tweet me at @jreulbach.

Click here to enter your blog post, or fill in the form below. 🙂


Algebra 2 Teacher Blogs!

Check out these blogs from teachers who teach Algebra 2! If you teach Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Math 2, or Math 3, then please scroll down to add your blog to the list!

These are the blogs of the teachers who signed up to connect already.  You can fill out the form at the bottom.  I will add you to the list when I update this page (about twice a month).

Check out the #Alg2Chat hashtag on Twitter starting in September.  We will be meeting Thursday nights, 9PM EST.

Amy McNabb
Jonathan Schoolcraft
Henri Picciotto
Jonathan klupp
Dylan Kane
Wendy Menard
Shaun Carter
Lisa Winer
Mark Kreie
Andrew Stadel
Trever Reeh
Shai McGowan
Sean Sweeney
Bonnie Davis
Lisa Henry
Brandy Cajudoy
Melissa Allman
Ali Grace Eiland
Tara Daas
Lane Walker
Mary Williams
Matt Baker
Julie Reulbach
Brian Palacios
Lauren Goldfish
Marsha Foshee
Heather Rosson
Nolan Doyle
Jennifer abel
Laurie Hailer
Christie Bradshaw
Robin Mathews
Sara VanDerWerf
Andrew BC
Steve Dull
Suzanne von Oy
Madelyne Bettis
Nate Goza
Jennifer Kelly
Tara Daas
Jill Weitgenant
Jennifer White
Nathaniel Highstein
Anna Vance
Jennifer Fairbanks
Sara B. Vaughn
Taylor Horn
Scott Keltner
Kat Glass
Amy Gruen
Meg Craig
Lois Burke
Rachel Fruin

If you teach Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Math 2, or Math 3, please add your blog to the list!

Once added, you can see the other Algebra 2 teachers in this spreadsheet.

Calling All Algebra 2 Teachers! #MTBoS #Alg2Chat

TMC16 this year intensely motivated me, to the point where I cannot stop thinking about math ed, even on vacation!  I came up with this idea this morning, and have to get it down before I go to the beach so I will stop thinking about it, and relax!

If you are going to be teaching Algebra 2, please add yourself to the list below!  I did this when I taught middle school, and it was great!  I even was able to develop a monthly newsletter of resources for those who signed up.  No promises, I have much ambition before school starts and then run out of time. But for the first time in two years, I am feeling my old momentum come swinging back!  Hurrah! And thank you all for inspiring me!

I created a shared Google Folder for us to drop our favorite goodies in.  How great will it be to have a place with ALL THE THINGS when we are looking for resources?!  As a community, I know we can do this!

Julie, @jreulbach

PLEASE add the #Alg2Chat to any Algebra 2 post you tweet about.  🙂  Let’s bring this back!

Create Custom Card Sorts and Marble Slides in Desmos!

Seriously, you can CREATE your own custom card sorts and marbleslides on Desmos now.  Gone are the days of paper cutters, laminators, more paper cutters, lost cards, and broken rubber bands.  Yes, everyone can create their own card sorts.

Here is the collaboration of the card sorts the amazing teachers at #TMC16 have already created.  Please ADD YOURS if you make one!  And here is the Desmos bank, please add it there as well.

Here is the how to guide of how to create your own!

First, you must go to to sign in to your teacher account.  Then here are the steps, in pictures.

Card sorts and Marble Slides are called LABS.  You need to enable these features in order to create them.  Once you are signed in, click on your name and then select LABS.Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 10.38.04 PM

Click to enable Marbleslides and Card Sort.

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Once enabled, you just select LABS like any other slide type in Activity Builder.  You can add Math or Text Cards, Image Cards, or even GRAPHS as a card!  I’ve heard you can even insert GIFS as image cards, but haven’t tried this yet.  You can also create an “answer key” for each card set slide.

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Here is what it looks like when you are building.


Here is what the student will see.

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Here is what the cards look like to the students once sorted.


Supporting Students – Homework

As I teach an accelerated math class, I feel that a small amount of homework is crucial for success for my students (and, not just “doing” homework, but doing it well).  I got closer to being happy with my homework system this year, but it still took too much time for me to  check and especially to record.

What I did this year:

  • Published solutions – This goes first because it is KEY and so amazing.  I published fully worked out solutions to homework every day by 3PM.  I encouraged students to check homework AS THEY WORKED instead of afterwards.  No-one learns well when they are practicing incorrectly.
  • Required students to check their completed homework against my solutions and mark the ones they missed or did not understand with a different colored pencil.  Kids really did this at the beginning of the year.  It made such a difference.  They knew which ones they had missed and we hit the ground running everyday.
  • Assigned a manageable amount of homework.  I aim for no more than 30 minutes each night.
  • “Lagged” the homework.  I assigned previous material each night and starter homework (easy, skills based) on new topics.  I only assigned tougher questions after we had been working with the material a couple of days.  This way there was no pressure to finish my lesson so they could do the homework.  Also, students didn’t complain as much about not understanding how to do the homework.
  • Checked the homework each day, 2 points per assignment, 1 point for incomplete homework.
  • Entered the grades in the grade book once a week.

What did not go well is that checking homework took up too much of my class time.  I walk around with my grade book, stop at each child, look at their homework, then take time to record the grade in my gradebook.  And, after Christmas I did not do a great job of checking it everyday.  As a result, many students stopped doing it.

Additionally, some students never checked their solutions online.  They did their homework as fast as possible, just to get the credit.  They had zero idea if they were doing it right.  They did not care if it was correct, as long as it was “complete”.  This did not help them and wasted my time looking at their barely complete work day after day, trying to decipher if they had actually done it or were just scribbling anything down.  This has to stop.

I loved Amy’s post about accountability.  And even though I hate taking the time, if I really want students to be accountable, I need to make sure they are actually doing their homework well, and be more systematic about checking it.  I also loved how Julia is planning to check homework next year.

Next Year:

So, here is what I am planning for next year.   I am still working on it though and any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

My biggest change is that I am going to have students keep a Homework Journal.  I will require every student to do every homework assignment (even Delta Math problem sets) in a graphing composition book.

  • Lagging Homework and publishing the answers as I did last year.
  • Require students to check answers and mark ones they did incorrectly with a different color pen/pencil.
  • Homework Journal – Students will do all of their homework in a graphing composition book.  The only thing in this book will be homework.  Our calc teacher does this and loves it.  He talks about it all of the time so I have to try it next year.  He calls it a journal and encourages them to write in it.  He tells them to write what did they not understand, what questions they have, and so on.  I could even have them write about how well they felt they understood each assignment.  I do a red/yellow/green for each assessment and think this may be valuable for the homework assignments as well.
  • I will have a section in the back of the journal for their weekly Delta Math problem sets.  I want students working these problems out (and Photo-math is a problem).  Hopefully this will help with both things.  This will make it take longer to do some sets, so I will assign less problems per set.
  • Incorporate “Criteria for Credit” to illustrate to students what a well done math assignment should look like.  A teacher at my school has the students create and then follow this criteria at the beginning of the year.  It is great and I am going to adopt it.  I have also talked her into guest blogging about it now that school is out!
  • From Julia – Each day I will circle any questions they did not fully and correctly complete with a red pen.  I will walk around the room and do this, I will not take them up.
  • Students are encouraged to complete circled problems ( to earn partial credit) before the homework journal is graded.
  • On quiz/test day (or about once every week), I will take the journals up and grade them.  I will take off full credit for every problem not completed, and give half-credit back for any completed circled problems (problems that were incomplete before).
  • Absent students would need to write down each assignment in the book, and ideally complete them before taking any assessments.  I would like to check this, but it may be too hard to keep up with.

Last year I walked around recording their homework scores as I went around the room on my grade sheet.  This is such a pain.  It takes time to look at the work, then time to put a grade down.  And I don’t even mark on their paper.  With Julia’s new system,  I can just walk around the room circling without having to record anything.  So checking homework each day should go much faster.  Then I can take the time once  a week to get the grades down.  And, since incomplete homework is already circled, it should not take long to grade (hopefully).

I love the idea of homework quizzes, but I don’t know if I would keep this up.  Making, distributing, grading, and recording a quiz takes a ton of work, even if it is online.  And I don’t want to create more work for myself.

I am hoping that more work setting things up at the beginning of the year will make the rest of the year easier.


Appreciating Discovery in Mathematics

Most students are unsettled by my “discovery” based style of teaching, at first.  However, once they let go of the way they have always done math, they really enjoy it.  I feel that they retain more, as my focus is never on memorizing formulas and procedures that are always quickly forgotten.  Well, maybe they don’t always retain more, but they seem to understand more of what they do retain.  We do use some formulas in my class, they are just not our first “go to”.  Formulas are what my students develop, individually and then as a class.  We only use formulas after we have investigated them, and understand them.

At the end of the year it is wonderful to see how much they appreciate this and feel that they understand the math they are doing!  I received a couple of lovely thank you notes from my freshmen, and other students wrote comments on my end of year survey as well.

Thank you so much for giving us context in math so we fully understand where things come from. No math teachers have done that for me.

Keep making us discover patterns, it helps us to think more in-depth.

Understand the WHY!!! just because productive struggle isn’t always fun doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful! it makes understanding and remembering concepts easier.

Thanks for a great year and challenging me to grow in this class!

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Supporting Students – Reviewing the Basics

I teach Algebra 2 to students who have just completed a year of Geometry. They do some algebra throughout the year, but are still rusty on many skills when their year with me begins.

This summer I am assigning an optional review on Delta Math for my students. It’s mostly basics with some beginning Algebra 1 topics. I included rounding, basic percents, fraction operations, order of operations, exponents, slope and linear equations, and basic factoring.

I will give my students a pre-assessment in the first week of school so they will know exactly what concepts they still need to work on.  I plan on reteaching the concepts that the majority of the students struggle with.

However, I’m not quite sure of the best way to help students that need more support than this.  I will leave the Delta Math set live so students can continue to practice those topics.  I plan on holding algebra one review sessions during student choice times for students that need, or want, extra support.  But I would like to make sure it is enough, enough time and enough support.  I want to support students who need review, but I am afraid of spending too much class time reviewing basics.  I don’t want students who do not need the review to be bored in my class.

Mattie suggested that I spend some time putting students together that can help each other, and letting them work with each other.  I do like this idea, as it will be more individualized help for students (instead of just me trying to help many students on many different concepts).  Also, often students understand other students better than the teacher.  I could do this in class occasionally or make it during student choice times.  If students volunteered to help others during choice times they could even earn service hours.  But, I haven’t even thought about how to structure this.

I would love ideas.  How do you support students that need extra help with basic skills during an already hectic school day/year?