I have often heard that people either like Algebra or Geometry, but not (usually) both. This was true for me. I have also heard that boys tend to like Algebra and girls tend to like Geometry. Not sure why this is, or if it is even true, but it certainly wasn’t for me. I absolutely detested Geometry. It was so boring to me. I (no joke) would sit in the back of the room with headphones on and I don’t think I ever got less than a 95 on any test or assignment. Fortunately, my teacher left me alone. And this is weird because Algebra was SO hard for me. You’d think that I would have liked the easier subject, but…for some reason, I just couldn’t stand Geometry. Looking back, I think it was because of the proofs. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I had to memorize all the postulates and theorems and list them out every time I solved a problem. You didn’t have to do that in Algebra.
Until I worked with Suzanne. My second teaching position in Las Vegas, NV had me working with an amazing math teacher, Suzanne. We both taught 8th grade Algebra I Honors. She mandated that her students use proofs when solving equations. At first, I thought this was so crazy (okay, okay, I thought it was stupid) because this wasn’t Geometry, folks, it was Algebra! There are no postulates or theorems! But there are rules, and she had her students write down each and every one they followed as they went through solving a problem. The result? Students made fewer errors and they understood the reasoning behind their work.
For example, let’s say a student had to solve the equation x + 3 = 9. The student would show the work subtracting 3 from each side and then justify it with the zero pairs rule (3 – 3 = 0, so x = 6). Other rules they might use would be the commutative properties, additive properties, identity properties, distributive properties, FOIL, etc. It took more time for students to do their work, but it also forced them to slow down so they made fewer mistakes.
My middle school algebraic Power Point lessons all employ this method of solving equations. Most of my Power Points are Common Core-aligned. I also have non-algebraic lessons (measurement, Geometry, basic arithmetic, etc.). Head on over to my store and check them out!