Unexpected Win – Rational Expressions

I teach two levels of Algebra 2 – academic and honors.  The academic kids are just a little behind where my honors kids are currently – they just need a bit more time to absorb, practice and really pull all the concepts together.  So, as I was starting the rational expressions unit with my academic class, I spent some time searching for some activities to help scaffold the concepts a bit and to also try to find something that the kids might enjoy – rather than just a worksheet.  Well, I really didn’t feel overly successful in my search.  I had done speed dating with my other class but my academic class wasn’t quite ready for that.  Then I hit pay dirt.  I ran across this worksheet from a school division in Texas (thanks Birdville schools.)  I’d love to give the teacher credit but I haven’t figured out who wrote it yet.  I liked the scaffolding that this provided for my kids and it was somewhat “game” like.

I tweaked it a little to include some basic simplifying ones.  Here it is…. the tweaked version.

I ran the original  on colored card stock thinking I’d cut it up and have them sort.    I didn’t have a chance to cut them up before class so I just handed them out to the kids and said… “hey, cut them up, sort them and write your answers on your answer sheet..”     My kids went… “Why?   Why can’t we just do them on our sheet and match the letters.”    DUH!  (I think they secretly hate sorts but just cooperate to be nice.)

So they went at it… and I mean they went crazy working those problems.  They wrote their work on their answer sheets and then looked for the answer on the original – crossing it out when they found it.  (This led to me putting the originals in sheet protectors so they could mark them with a dry erase marker.)  I mean they WORKED, worked and worked some more.  They discussed together, they compared answers, they found each others mistakes.  It was AMAZING!!  When they didn’t finish, they begged to finish the next day.  I was blown away – what seemed like a worksheet to me was a puzzle to them.  WIN, WIN, WIN!   Why?

So, of course, I had to ask why?  Their responses –

“The answers were there so I knew I could get it eventually.”

” Having the answers and steps took some pressure off.”

” I could figure out my mistakes when I could see the steps in between.”

“Working the problems with the steps and the help of my friends made it easy!”

“Having the steps shown helped me understand.”

“I’m still struggling with factoring, so having them factored helped me get to the answer…. and my factoring got better too.”

Will I use it again?   Already did – created one for addition and subtraction too!   Still not completely sure why it was such a win… but I’ll take it!

Here are the links to the word version of both.

Simplifying, Multiplying and Dividing Rational Expressions

Adding and Subtracting Rational Expressions

1 comment

    • Marla on April 7, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Love it, and JUST finished teaching simplifying rational expressions. It goes in the file for next year! Thanks for sharing.

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