Totally Underrated!

11 Oct

It’s INTENSE alright. Not the advanced kind, ladies and gentlemen, the other kind. With all the love and frustration I have for this class though, it’s right up my alley. =)

I basically have the privilege of teaching the 9th graders weakest in Algebra for a block period, 5 days a week!! I’m seriously very happy to be teaching this class, though I was thrown in with almost no materials or prep.

Now, I’ve taught Algebra a ridiculous amount of times considering I came from a 4 by 4 school back in the days. However, I stopped teaching it for the last several years due to intense overload and hatred of life from teaching Algebra 1A up to 4 times a year. Now that I’m back, things seem more clear and I feel like the fogginess of how to order teaching/introducing Algebra is starting to get clearer.

We’ll see though…

Anyways, first insight of the year (and feel free to tell me what you think), but I think the COMMUTATIVE PROPERTY and the ORDER OF OPERATIONS are waaayyy underrated!!

On the commutative property

  • I think when students don’t recognize you’re distributing -3 in 4-3(x+9), it’s a lack of knowing the commutative property
  • I think when students can’t seem to decipher which term is negative or positive in simplifying expressions like 4 – 6x + 9 – 5 + 3x, I think it’s a lack of knowing the commutative property
  • I think when students can’t seem to take 4/7 of a number on their calculator, it’s a lack of knowing the commutative property
  • I think when students don’t recognize that they can simplify a product of fractions before multiplying across, it’s a lack of knowing the commutative property

On the order of operations:

  • Very related to most of the previous issues, I think the order of operations in these damn textbooks don’t emphasize enough how multiplication and division are essentially on the same level and addition and subtraction are on the same level. Therefore the commutative property should NOT be only the commutative property of addition and multiplication by this point, but apply to all 4 basic operations!
  • The focus in Algebra should not be on the FIRST order of operations but now seeing the LAST order of operations. (The light bulb was turned on for me by this author and book.) Students should be able to chunk long expressions by the last order of operations.

Lastly, more things that I highly underrated: writing expressions from patterns and connecting mental math to the algebra.

Lessons I’ve got so far on focusing on these to be continued…

One Response to “Totally Underrated!”

  1. Rachel Oh October 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    I totally agree with you. Students definitely need to have a strong sense of order of operations in order to do algebra. The whole idea of PEMDAS really messes them up b/c my students think that all multiplication goes before division and that all addition goes before subtraction. It’s taking me forever to undo this misconception in their head.

    Another issue right now…. not recognize that a quantity divided by a number is the same is multiplying by the reciprocal. My case is a little different because I have younger algebra kids (12-13 years old), so maybe over time they’ll get it…? They eventually do.

    Seeing all these issues just helps me be a better PRE-algebra teacher. I know now what concepts to really drive home… hopefully my group of pre-algebra kids will be better prepared next year.

    Sometimes I wish I could just teach one math… this year sucks for me. (Pre-algebra honors, pre-algebra resource (12 IEPS!!!!!), algebra, and geometry). My brain is so scattered. haha.

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