Students love choice in Algebra 2



My Algebra 2 students love choice. Who doesn't? The trick has been to get them to feel like they're choosing when they're really doing a ton of Algebra 2. Does it sound like magic? Well, there may be a little! But what teaching doesn't involve a little magic here and there? Below are some topics we cover in Algebra 2 and how I offer choice to my students.

Function shifts
The "blob activity" is a super easy to make activity that assesses student understanding of vertex-form function shifts. Students are asked to shift the vertices of vertex-form functions (absolute value, radical, quadratic and cubic) into a blob that somewhere on the grid. 

Algebra 2 activity

For instance in the picture above, students could record y = (x + 2.9)^2 + 3.5 and be right! They like that there is an infinite number of possibilities for right answers. To make this activity, print a grid, draw a parent function on it (not shown above) and draw an irregularly-shaped blob. Put the grid into a plastic sheet protector so that kids can use a fry erase marker to better visualize the graphs. Then give each student an answer sheet with spaces for 5 equations for each graph.


Algebra 2 mix match

In this Algebra 2 mix match game there are 2 stacks of cards. There are function types in 1 stack and function characteristics in the other stack. Each student in a group takes a turn choosing a card from each pile to make a "mix-match" of function and characteristic. Students then graph or write the equation and then check each other. There is  summary sheet at the end that can be used to award credit.

Algebra 2 mix match

Putting the graphing sheets in plastic page protectors lets students use dry erase markers and reuse the graph sheet throughout the entire activity. Each student gets his or her own equation recording sheet.

Domain and Range:
We spend a lot of time on Domain and Range throughout the year. It's really rough at first, but by the end my students feel really good about being able to state the domain and range of any graph they see. I feel pretty darn good about it too. We do so many activities covering the topic, including a matching activity and a scavenger hunt. I give the matching activity as practice and the scavenger hunt as a tool to assess student understanding. 


Domain and Range Pennant


Once students are confident in what they know, this domain and range pennant is a great way to showcase student understanding. Students can choose which pennants they'd like to complete to show off what they have learned.

Quadratic Formula
It can take some of my students a long time to solve one quadratic equation, especially with the Quadratic Formula, so I like to add in a bit of choice. With this Quadratics Chain Activity students can choose any 10 problems to get a 100%. They can choose to do 8 for an 80%, etc. I check the links along the way so that they know exactly what their score will be. More often than not students aim for all 10 (and some aim for all 12!).

Fun Quadratic Formula activitiy

Instead of, or along with, tests, I like to give task card assessments.

Number Talks:
I LOVE Number Talks. It took a really, really long time for me to finally jump in. I was confused about how they'd look in high school, how exactly I could apply them in class, and how my students would react. But now that I have tried them I will always include them as part of my year. 

Number talks in high school math

The very best thing about Number Talks is that they are all about student choice. Students are given a problem (like this percentage problem) and need to solve it without a calculator, pencil or paper. Each student comes up with a different way to solve, which is so awesome! You can read more about Number Talks in our classroom in this post Number Talks in High School Math.

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