Engaging students: Inverse Functions

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Brittney McCash. Her topic, from Algebra II: multiplying binomials.

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C3. How has this topic appeared in the news.

For the engagement on this aspect of my topic, I would bring a binomial cube with me. I would pose the question, “What do we do when we multiply two binomials together?” The students, of course would not know the answer. I would then say, “Well let’s what one man did that they even did a news article about him!” This in itself catches the students attention because they are piqued about what exactly I am talking about. I would then pass out a copy of this news article so that the students could read. After popcorn reading out loud, we would discuss the article and about how we could use the binomial cube. I would then take out my cube (If possible, put students in groups and give each group a binomial cube to work with) and ask the students, “How in the world did he use this cube to multiply those binomials (points to equation on board)?” I would give them the hint that they have to add up the sides of the square and solve for the perimeter, and see what they can come up with. This is a great engagement for the kids because not only is it hands on, but the article brings in outside aspects of what they’re learning so that they realize they are not the only ones having to learn the material. It’s also a great way to introduce multiplying binomials because it starts at the beginning of adding variables (which they already know how to do), and it’s a visual representation of concept that is sometimes hard to grasp. It’s also a great way to lead into the FOIL, Box, etc…methods to take it into a deeper explanation. For those that have not heard of the binomial cube, here are some pictures of what the students will be working out.

ARTICLE: News Article about Binomial Cube


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B2. How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

            A great way to start off with this engagement would be to take the students back to sixth grade. Start off with asking students, “Who remembers when we had to learn how to add and subtract fractions?” Most, if not all, of the students should raise their hands. You can then ask, “Okay, good. So does anyone remember what the next step was after we learned how to add and subtract fractions? What did we learn how to do next?” The answer I am looking for here is multiplying and dividing. After that is established, you can lead in with, “Okay, so who can tell me what the next step would be with what we have previously been learning (adding and subtracting binomials)?” The answer is multiplication and division. Make sure to let them know that you will only be focusing on the multiplication aspect for now. Then you can pose some questions like, “What does multiplying binomials look like? How do we do it? Is there more than one way?” You can then go into a deeper exploration of multiplying binomials and the different ways you can do so. This is a good way to introduce multiplying binomials because not only did I bring in one concept students were already familiar with, I brought in two. I utilized something they already knew (even if subconsciously) back in middle school, and applied that same order to something more complex. It showed them that there was a purpose for learning what they did, and why there is a reason we go in the order that we do. Then you have the aspect of taking something they had been previously working on this semester and extending it further. This helps the students connect with what they are learning and realizing there is a purpose. Because multiplication is repeated addition, we are taking something they have previously learned, and extending it further. Another reason this is a good plan is because you start off with such a basic question, that every student knows the answer. This allows for immediate attention because all the students know what you are talking about, the more they understand, the more likely they are to participate in classroom discussion.

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E1. How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

In multiplying binomials, technology is a wonderful thing. It can allow students the opportunity to learn in new and interesting ways. When thinking of an engage for this topic, I thought of the 9th grade Algebra 1 class I am currently teaching. High School students are sometimes the hardest to keep entertained, and I think I found the perfect video to help keep there attention. This video is a group of students who did a rap about the FOIL method. What better way to relate to students then students themselves! I would start class off by telling the class, “Today we are going to start of by watching a fun video over something we will be learning today.” Proceed to play the video, and observe how every student is watching. The video is fun while also informing. It describes the method, though not thoroughly, but it gives the students an idea of what will be coming. This video helps show that other students all over the state/world are learning the same thing, and are bringing a fun new aspect to the learning of the material. After the video is played, you might ask the class to try and guess at what exactly you will be covering today. It’s always good to see their minds work and try to figure it out. This question also allows them to connect the video back to the classroom environment and settle down. You can then begin your lesson on multiplying binomials. At the end of the lesson, I would bring up the video again, and ask the class if they can recall what FOIL stands for and to give me an example. I would probably make this their exit ticket for the day and have them write it down on a piece of paper. (This video runs a little long, and I would recommend editing some parts out for time sake. )





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