This year, my math department has changed radically from last year. Among the many changes is a revamping of the Algebra II curriculum. Not only are we adding new topics, but we’ve removed a whole bunch of what we traditionally taught — pushing it to precalculus, I suppose. The course is totally reordered. For our first quarter, we are covering:
Unit 1: Number Lines, Intervals, and Sets
1.Set notation and interval notation (along with union, intersection, and subset)
2.Linear inequalities –graph on a number line
4.Absolute value inequalities
Unit II: Algebraic Manipulation: Rational Expressions and Exponents
1.Factoring two, three, and four term polynomials
2.Review of basic exponent rules and simplification
3.Polynomial addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
4.Rational expression addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
Unit III: Radical Equations
1.Review properties of radicals (integer exponents)
2.Simplifying radicals with exponents under them
3.Solving radical equations
This seems very hodge-podgy to me, now that we’re going through it for the first time. One day we’re talking about sets and subsets, the next how to solve . We are doing a lot without the textbook (which I’m fine with), but every so often we’re turning to the middle of the textbook to cover a topic (e.g. compound inequalities and absolute value inequalities come at the end of chapter 3). It just feels fractured. Why am I concerned?
I don’t know. I can’t articulate it. It’s just a whole bunch of thoughts running through my head…
We haven’t started graphing, and that makes me nervous. I’m now feeling like we’ve cut out too much of the curriculum in quarters three and four to cover this stuff. I don’t see the natural flow in this beginning material, as I saw the natural flow in our old curriculum (functions and lines; quadratics; polynomials; rational functions; exponentials and logarithms; trigonometry).
However I’m hoping that the past month and a half — which seems like a lot of vamping before we get to the good stuff — is worth it, because it does force students to practice their basic algebra skills.
If there are any other Algebra II teachers out there: how do you start the course? And do you like it (equivalently put: does it work)?
In non-AP calculus — since I get to cover what I like at the pace I like — I focused the past month and a half specifically on the skills that my students last year had difficulty with: visualizing basic functions including logs and exponents, solving logarithmic and exponential equations, solving trigonometric equations, and knowing trig values at special angles. This too is totally different than what I did last year, where as a new teacher I just forged through our book. But let me tell you — unlike with Algebra II — I am certain that all this review is going to do some good, because I remembered some of the wounds my students suffered last year, and I am applying extra padding in those same areas to my students this year.