How awesome is Algebra 1? Kids jump from cross-multiplying in pre-Algebra to finding rates of change within a few months. How cool is that?? So much learning happens in Algebra 1, and with that learning there can be a little (or a lot) of discomfort. This is why I love games, puzzles, task cards, pennants, anything interactive to teach Algebra. When kids come out of Algebra having enjoyed most of it, math from then on becomes a whole lot more accessible.

*"Johnny is so smart, he can do math in his head!"*Before Algebra, some kids could easily do math in their heads, and some may have even been praised for this. Then Algebra hits, and these kids have a sort of identity crisis. Suddenly the work becomes exhausting to do mentally and kids who were praised for being so smart because they could do their work without writing anything down suddenly hate math. I saw this all the time when I taught Algebra 1 and spent a lot of time explaining that "smart in math" is not connected to an ability to get answers without writing anything down. Algebra is so important, it's even been linked to college graduation rates. Hey, if math didn't need to be written down, we'd never know that Einstein was a genius!

We know it's super important, so does this mean Algebra needs to be super serious? No way! (I bet you already knew my answer). I love all sorts of interactive Algebra practice, from puzzles to pennants to task cards.

I also love cutting and pasting activities, especially in a class like Algebra 1 where tensions can run high for some kids. My students are always so stressed out about all the things they have going on that relaxing cut and paste activities are a great break. With just about all activities that require cutting, I give my students the scissors! This also cuts down on the amount of work I need to do in order to keep class fun. This Slope 4 Ways Puzzle is a nice introduction to the 4 major slopes - positive, negative, zero and undefined. You can print it full-sized or smaller to fit in students' interactive notebooks. (You can find this one for free here).

To me, there is little use in memorizing. As a special Education teacher, a lot of my students have a whole lot of difficulty memorizing and recalling information, even just a day later. And what is the point anyway? In the real world they will have access to anything they ever need to know within seconds. For this reason, I LOVE word walls. They cut down on the anxiety of memorizing and let kids get right to deeper learning.

Do you have a word wall in your classroom? Here is a photo of part of the Algebra 1 word wall that is hanging in my classroom. Even though I teach Algebra 2, we reference this wall a lot, especially when explaining x and y intercepts.

Slope is just one of those concepts that needs to be practiced. For more slope teaching ideas, you may be interested in the post Fun Activities for Learning (and Teaching!) Slope.

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