I have always tried to teach algebra in a way that is understandable, interesting, and active. Although you can find activities for teaching algebra to younger students (6th and 7th graders), I have never found a good classroom resource to use with adult students. Even in the resources for younger students, the activities always seem more like busywork, when they could provide an opportunity for students to truly understand difficult concepts or explore the similarities and contrasts that abound in mathematical procedures and ideas.
Today, I can finally release some of the activities that I have been writing all summer that will be available from Cengage Learning (used to be Thomson/Brooks-Cole) to accompany the Tussy/Gustafson 4ed Algebra Series. These are activities to be used in the classroom to engage the students in interesting and active learning. The activities are formulated around difficult concepts, and the similarities and differences between concepts that arch across all of algebra (more about this in next week’s blog posts … or read the Introduction to the IRB in the downloadable pdf file).
I have enjoyed taking the time to sit down and write what I hope are interesting and useful resources for teaching algebra to adult students. It has grown from a small idea into a behemoth with a life of its own during the writing process, as the pedagogies described in the Teaching Guides continued to force more activities to be written. I am still writing, but there are currently over 500 pages of activities, assessments, and teaching guides.
For their assistance on the Elementary Algebra IRB, I owe a great big thank you to my faithful mathematics assistant, Megan Arthur, who tirelessly filled in a lot of the necessary (but boring) detailed mathematical work and graphics on these activities all summer – without her time and energy, this work would not be a reality today. Also, I extend a grateful thank you to Maryanne Kirkpatrick, who took on the task of doing every single problem in the Elementary Algebra IRB to minimize the errors in its first printing. Maryanne was my first supervisor when I was a wet-behind-the-ears algebra instructor for LCCC and I’m sure she is amused by this turn of events.
The Instructor’s Resource Binder is made up of three main components: Assessments, Teaching Guides, and Activities. Together these three components provide a framework for ensuring a high-quality learning experience in the classroom. None of these assessments or activities are meant to be graded. These are tools to help you to help students to learn concepts and increase the retention of their mathematical learning.
I hope you, and your students, enjoy using the resources as much as I enjoyed writing them. To see the resources that will be in the Instructor’s Resource Binder and Student Workbook, follow this link to the Tussy/Gustafson website, and then look at the section called “Instructor’s Resource Binder.”
An activity on interval notation…
You can use the activities right now in a “classroom test”… just print and use – send feedback please! There is an entire chapter of activities on Systems of Equations and Inequalities (including one of my favorites, The Moving Walkway Problem on p. 41 inspired by the moving walkways at the Detroit airport).
Also there are sections of other chapters available (the “teasers”):
- Adding Real Numbers
- Solving Inequalities
- Graphing Linear Equations
- Problem Solving Using Systems of Equations
- Zero and Negative Exponents
- A Factoring Strategy
- Addition and Subtraction of Rational Expressions
Another favorite… Mathematical Heteronyms … mathematical expressions that look similar but are really very different.
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- Video Code Easter Eggs