Algebra Love

My Pi Day earrings, courtesy Amanda
 Yeah, yeah. These earrings have little to do with algebra. But they do have to do with having fun with math. And making math fun goes a long way to helping kids master math concepts and problem solving, whether you are teaching them addition, fractions, algebra, or calculus.

And math is fun! So much of math is about recognizing patterns and figuring out the best way to solve puzzles. Woohoo!

If you are teaching algebra (and even if you aren't,) you really ought to check out this NPR story about a young teacher named Sarah Hagan. 

On her blog, Math= Love, Sarah writes more about her creative approach to teaching algebra at a small high school in Oklahoma. She uses something called Interactive Notebooks (INB) which are like a more mature version of lapbooks. My 8th grader recently has been struggling with some concepts in his algebra program, so I decided to take a break and reteach the material using lessons from Sarah's blog.

I'm making my own book to teach from, and Paul's also making one of his own. Here's a 2-page spread from the quadratic equation chapter.

All ideas borrowed from Math=Love blog. Also, check our Sarah Hagan's INB Pinterest board.

Each page or two in the notebook (which begins life as a standard composition book) explains one topic. Usually a "foldable" or some other colorful illustration gives the ins and outs of the issue. Some sample problems further shed light. All together, the INB serves as a resource book which is far more accessible than an 800 page textbook.

Conclusion: Teaching this way has been both fun AND (more importantly!) effective! I'm an INB convert!

We're still using Paul's textbook, Elementary Algebra by Harold Jacobs, but I'm also going to be incorporating the INB to help cement the main concepts and give Paul his own personalized INB for quick reference.

Now I'm starting to think about how I could use INBs in other subjects. Hmmm...


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