So late one night last year, I had a strong desire to change the way I teach. In many ways I see myself as very traditional. Some people tell me not so much, but I think at least philosophically I am very much in the land of I have knowledge; their minds are empty; must put my knowledge in their heads. Despite this I definitely see myself as a constructivist. A bad word to many I am sure (I know the spell check doesn't like it).

So about a year later, I am doing something with my late night ponderings. In my 8th grade Algebra 2 class, we are doing a unit on quadratics with an introduction to complex numbers thrown in for good measure. I have done a few teaching to the whole class days, but mostly we have days for the kids to work on a variety of projects. Some examples you ask? Why sure

* Hardy-Weinberg Equations from Biology

* Understanding how complex numbers increase the range of quadratic functions

* Deriving the quadratic formula

* How do the a, b, c in ax^2+bx+c=y affect the graph of the function

* Real-life applications of parabolas

There are more, but you probably get the drift. Each student will have to make a "presentation" of some kind. Not every kid can make an oral presentation to the class, we don't have the time. I am hoping that technology will come to my rescue, and some kids will make little videos that I can assign for homework. Students will have to critique each other's work. These are teaching problems I haven't worked out before, but I am enjoying it so far...

Teach the controversy — but how?

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