Dealing with expressions is the foundation of Algebra. The tricky part is the basic math that is involved. As a high school teacher, I love using expressions to have students practice their basic skills such as operations with positives and negatives and dealing with decimals and fractions. It doesn’t make sense to me to give my students practice problems that look like this: -5 + 8. I need them to know how to do that problem, but why not make it look like this: -5x + 8x. I also want students to use these expressions in a situation like a perimeter problem or an area problem. All of these things help prepare students for tougher problems and it gets them used to setting up problems themselves. I try to use a variety of resources through the first part of the year in Algebra. My daughter and I have both created expressions activities that can be useful for any math teacher that teaches expressions. Have a look below at two of our favorites:
***Please read further, but I recently found out that students that took Algebra and passed in the 2019-2020 school year are exempt from ever taking the STAAR test. When I wrote this, I did not know that. Here it is on the TEA website:
In waiving the required performance on academic assessments under TEC, §28.025(c) and §39.025(a) for spring 2020, the following applies: If a student is on schedule to complete instruction in the entire curriculum in spring 2020 for a course that has a corresponding STAAR EOC assessment, the student is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements. If a student is on schedule to complete graduation requirements in spring 2020 but does not have the opportunity to retake a STAAR EOC assessment prior to graduation, the student is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements but will need to complete the IGC process. For students graduating in future years but taking one of the five courses with a corresponding STAAR EOC assessment this year, those students will not be responsible for meeting that EOC assessment graduation requirement if they earn course credit this year.
This changes my thinking, but I am going to incorporate as much of the Algebra that I’ve listed below through bell ringers in Geometry since they are going to be weak. This will help them in their future math classes! At least now, I don’t have to do it all in one semester. I can spread it out over the year.
Here is this original post:
About 4 years ago, I created an Algebra STAAR Review that covered the newly established Algebra TEKS. Each of the Algebra TEKS is covered on a page of its own. At the top of each page, I put the objective practiced on that page. My thinking was if a teacher wanted to individualize the work, or just cover a certain standard in class, then this would make it easy for them.
Most people love the review, but some people complained that it was too much material. It is too much to try to cover in 2 or 3 weeks before the test. It is a detailed review with a short quiz at the end of each section. Each objective would probably take two to three (or more in some cases) 50 minute class periods to get it done. My mistake was that I did not give the teachers that purchased this review a suggested plan of action. With the craziness of school last year, I feel like it’s time to help teachers with a plan of action for the STAAR test. I have many questions from my district and the state that cannot be answered until we get closer to the school year, but I still want to forge ahead with a plan and I’d like to share it with you.
I am constantly studying the Algebra STAAR Exams. Recently, I took the tests from the last 3 years and put together an analysis. I wanted to see any patterns or trends. TEA has said how many questions come from each category, but when you figure out the details yourself, it’s eye opening. I’m going to teach all of the TEKS, but this helps me know which ones that I really need to emphasize. I took each objective and broke it into each standard within the objective and made tables and graphs for each objective. Below is the one I made for all of the objectives. The columns represent the number of questions in that category for that year.
*You can get a copy of the whole analysis at the end of this blogpost.
Before I share my plan, I wanted to discuss more about how to use the resources. For instance, Objective 2 has nine standards. There is no way to do all nine standards plus the quiz at the end right before the test if you want to review other topics. A suggestion is to use parts of the review during the school year to spiral the information. Pull them out when you need to review for a test or use them as bell ringers. Teachers have no time and before they know it the test is right around the corner. The best time to plan is as early as possible. My review bundle can be used throughout the year AND at the end of the year, so get the review now, print it off, put it in a binder and start thinking about how you can use the material. Also, if you purchase this and see something that needs to be added, just give me a shout out and I’ll see what I can do. (That’s the best part about purchasing from Teachers Pay Teachers. We can revise and edit as needed!) One thing that I really love about creating resources and lesson planning is being able to help other teachers that do not have the time to do it themselves, so here’s my Algebra STAAR TESTING PLAN for 2020-2021. I’m using the dates set by Texas as of July 2020. If things change, then I’ll adjust. I will be teaching both Algebra 1 and Geometry next year. Both groups will be taking the Algebra STAAR at some point since the STAAR testing was cancelled last school year.
All of the plans below are based on my Algebra STAAR Bundle and the EOC Bell Ringers-(I’ve changed the title to “Algebra Bell Ringer Review” but it is the same as previous.) The one thing not incorporated into my plan as of now are the quizzes at the end of the objectives. These could be used as pretests, posttests, homework, tutorials etc. I’m sure times will arise that I’m not thinking of right now, where I can use them.
TEST PLAN – December Test
(Testing Window – December 8 – 18, 2020)
Who is the Test For? Students that did not pass the Algebra STAAR in previous years and geometry or other math students that did not pass the Algebra STAAR or never took it because of COVID-19.
*If you see red Algebra TEKS in my descriptions below, they are readiness standards which means they are more of a focus on the test. (Go Look at the Algebra TEKS on the TEA website.)
**Note to Geometry Teachers – Let’s face it, Geometry will not be the same. You will need to focus on Algebra when you can. Some Geometry topics will not get as much attention this year!!! Some good news is that we do cover Algebra naturally in Geometry. While we are working on Parallel and Perpendicular lines, we can cover these Algebra Standards: 2B, 2E, 2F, 2G. When we are working with segments, segment addition, angles and angle addition, we can cover the solving equations standard: 5A.
- Start the 2nd Week of School and do:
- 10 Weeks of Algebra EOC Bell Ringers. (Get a FREEBIE sample of the Bell Ringers at the end of this blogpost.)
- Pick days before Thanksgiving to work specifically on these topics: (***Side Note – My Algebra EOC Review covers all the TEKS and at the top of each page the objective is written, so you can easily pull the TEKS you need!)
- Linear Topics – Writing and Graphing Equations Slope and Key Features of Graphs (2C, 3A, 3B, 3C)
- Writing, Graphing and Solving Linear Inequalities (2H, 3D, 5B)
- Quadratics – Writing, Graphing, Key Features, Transformations (6B, 6C, 7A, 7C)
- Factoring and Solving Quadratics by Factoring (10E, 8A)
- Writing and Solving Systems (2I, 3F, 5C)
- Week of November 30:
- Laws of Exponents (11B)
- Exponential Functions (9B, 9C, 9D)
- Domain and Range (2A, 6A, 9A)
- Any other last minute details
TEST PLAN – May Test
(Testing Window – May 4 – June 4, 2021)
Who is the Test For? Students in Algebra 1 and students that did not pass the previous Algebra STAAR test.
For the Algebra I Students: (Use the Algebra Review STAAR Bundle)
- Use these objectives as Bell Ringers OR add them to your homework/classwork starting the 2nd Semester. Each of these objectives is covered on a page in the bundle for that objective:
- 1st Week: 2B, 2D
- 2nd Week: 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H
- 3rd Week: 3A, 3H
- 4th Week: 4A, 4B, 4C
- 5th Week: 12A, 12B, 12E
- 6th Week: 9A, 9B, 9E,
- 7th Week: 10A, 10B, 10C
- 8th Week: 10D, 10E, 10F
- 9th Week: 6A, 6B, 6C
- 10th Week: 8A, 8B, 11B
- 11th Week: 12C, 12D
- End of March: (March 22, 2021)
- The 3 Quizzes and Task Cards – (This is part of the bundle!) This takes a while to complete. I usually start the Task Cards at the end of March. Last year, I used the Task Cards as flash cards and put them in rings for each student.
- 2 Weeks Before the Test:
- First Week:
- 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E
- 2nd Week
- 5C, 9C, 9D, 11B
- First Week:
- 1/2 Day of Camp :
- Use the worksheets and the task cards to do: 2A, 2C, 2I
- Use the matching cards to practice: 3F, 3G, 3H
- Use the task cards to do: 5A, 5B
- Use the worksheets to do: 7A, 7B, 7C
For Students that did not pass in previous years or in December:
- Invite to 1/2 Day Camp
- Individualized Packets – Use their test results to create individualized packets.
I have a link to the plan and analysis below so you can have your own copy. To sum up what you will need to follow this plan:
- Algebra Teachers will need the Algebra EOC Bundle.
- Geometry Teachers will need the Algebra EOC Bundle and the Algebra EOC Bell Ringers.
Here’s a free sample of the Bell Ringers: Bell Ringer Sample
Algebra 1 is a fun but challenging class to teach. So many thoughts run through my head when I think about the beginning of the year in Algebra. One of the biggies is how much do the students remember from their previous math class? This is especially a big question since last year our district went to a distance learning format. I’m not sure what to expect from the incoming students, so I need a plan.
This year will be interesting. Our district has decided to have both online learning and in class learning. I’m working hard to make sure I have plenty of lessons that will work for either scenario. I’m going to start the year off with a two day review of number sense, order of operations and basic operations with integers. I’ve used this in the past because I always get a range of abilities, so I want to know where the students are. I have a print version of what I use and I’ve recently made a digital version. After I do the two day lesson, I give the students 3 quizzes (yep 3… because I want the repetition and plus it’s a challenge). All the quizzes are similar to each other but ask slightly different questions. The quizzes contain 15 questions. To move to the next quiz, students must make an 80 or better. If they don’t, they retake it. (These are timed because I don’t want the students to take too long. Either they know it or they don’t.) This can last up to 3 weeks. It’s not hard to keep up with because I take a grade on each quiz. Here’s a peek at the print version of the quiz vs. the Google Forms version:
The majority of the six weeks should (and hopefully will) be spent on solving equations. The days in the plan are block-schedule days. We have classes every other day for 80 minutes except on Fridays when the classes are only about 35 minutes. Below is plan that I will follow with the activities:
|# of Days||Topic|
|2||Pre-Algebra Review – PDF Version or Digital Version|
|1||Patterns (Boom Card Lesson)|
|1.5||*Setting up and Solving Equations and Inequalities|
|1.5||*Solving Equations and Inequalities|
|1||*Review Equations and Inequalities|
*Get all of the resources above in a bundle: Equations Bundle
I’ve linked the topics to some of my lessons and worksheets that I used in my TpT store, but as I see the need, I go find content in other places. My district uses a couple of resources that I pull from as well, but our students know how to find answers online for these assignments, so I don’t like to use them for homework.
If you’ve never used quizziz.com, you should try it. The kids really enjoy doing these. I like that the students can do them more than one time. I have the students show work in their journal. Basically it’s just a digital quiz with 4 answer choices. These are teacher-made and there are a ton to choose from on just about every topic.
One of my favorite digital resources is Boom Learning. If you like task cards, then you will love Boom Cards. Again, these cards are teacher-made. There are a variety of ways kids can answer questions. I started creating my own decks. I used two of my own creations the first six weeks. One set of Boom Cards covered patterns and how to write an expression from a pattern. The other set was for practicing solving equations and inequalities. The kids can go through them as many times as they want so they get a lot of practice and get the best grade possible. To use Boom Cards, you need a teacher account. The free account is perfectly fine, but you don’t get to see the reports. The best thing to do is to get a paid account which is only $15 – 35 dollars a year depending on which plan you choose. Make your own decks or purchase decks. There are free choices as well. Click here to go check out my store. I’m brand new at making these, but I can already tell that this will be something I work on because all of my classes love Boom Cards!
After I get used to my students and find out who has gaps in their learning, then it will be time to dive into tutoring. I will engage my students through online tutoring this year. It will be an interesting year to say the least. I know that I will need patience and I will need to be flexible. I’m ready for anything and I hope you are too. I wish you well in your new year!
Many teachers are in the same boat. You might be thinking…I do a few things online with my students, but not much. If the extent of your online teaching/learning has been Kahoot or Quizlet, then good job! That’s a start. Don’t be ashamed. If you have dabbled in Google Classroom, then Yay! The key is not to be afraid to try new things. There’s always a learning curve, no doubt about it. The more you become familiar with something, then the easier it will be. The key is to start!
So how will you reach your students? Your district is probably scrambling to come up with a plan. I know my district has been having internet issues… as in a virus attacked our whole system. Google Classroom was being used by most of our teachers, but when the district internet and website when down, we couldn’t access Google Classroom. Luckily I was using Blogger. If you’d like to read more about how I use Blogger, then go here: Using Blogger for Online Teaching. I love Blogger because I do not have to rely on my district for anything which is a blessing!
I think it is important to find something you feel comfortable with and something that is free! If you already use Remind with your students, this would be another way to guide them to where you want them to go. If you’ve never used Remind, then check it out here: REMIND. It is not a website, but it is a way to communicate with your students, so let’s say you wanted your students to go to a video, or go do an online activity, you could tell them through Remind!
Once you know how to stay in contact with your students, it’s time to figure out what activities to give them. The reason I love Blogger is because I can use a picture of my resources and place them on my blogspot. How do I check to see if they did it? I’m planning on checking their journal at some point. Right now with COVID-19, I don’t know if we will go back to school anytime soon, so the next thing I gave them was a Quizziz.com activity to see if they understand this material. I love this platform because I can look at the report to see if they did it, how many times they attempted it and how well they did. I stick with these free online tools to check for understanding as well as to teach:
- Google Slides – like PowerPoint (use with your google account…if you have gmail, you have google slides)
- Google Forms – Good for assessment (if you have gmail, you have google forms)
- Hyperdocs – A way to deliver your lessons and provide links to online tools. This site has several templates and tutorials.
- Quizziz – Self-checking
- Boom Learning – Self-checking
- YouTube – Video Learning Tool
- Khan Academy – Video and Tutoring Tool
- Flip Grid – Video Tool (students explain a concept on a short video)
- Desmos – Graphing Calculator Tool with Free Lessons – There are two places you will want to use: Free Calculator and Teacher Resources
- Screencast-O-Matic – Video your computer screen while you are explaining.
My suggestion is not to overwhelm yourself or your students. Pick a couple of resources that you feel are best for you and stick with them for a while. Ask other teachers in your school what they are using. Get with teachers in your department and share the workload. Some other tools you should check out are Google Meets and Zoom. These are video conferencing tools where you can actually see your students live.
If you are a secondary math teacher, then I have several distance learning activities in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store that you might be interested in. I also have a Boom Learning Store called Time Flies. You can go to either store and find all kinds of things that would be helpful. Here’s the link to my distance learning resources in my Time Flies TpT store.
I wish you the best in your online teaching journey. You can do this! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Good Luck!
***New on Teachers Pays Teachers! If you purchase a PDF, then that resource might be eligible to use digitally. Look to the right of the product page and if you see “Create Digital Activity” button, then you have access to a digital resource!
Looks like this on the product page after your purchase:
Here’s what it looks like when you are preparing it to be assigned. You can change things as you see fit.
More of my favorite activities that can be used digitally: