This was my third year teaching students to complete the square. The first year I did not do a great job introducing the topic, and it turned out very difficult for students. Last year I had students work on one side of the equation - which resulted in messy math, clearing the fractions, and frustrations for all. This year when I saw

this post on

*The Life of Mrs. Reilly*, I noticed the order in which she had her students do steps to complete the square. I must say - it's SO much easier than what I was trying to do.

You know those days were you feel dumb? Yeah, this was one of them.

Anyways....

So the big idea behind her activity was to help students keep the steps in order. I modified her activity just a little bit - here is what I did. In envelopes on the student table I cut up each of the station sheets into slip. The Type A personality in me color coded the paper each station was printed on with the color I wrote the station number onto the envelope. I figured it would help me, and the students, keep things straight! So on each table there were 5 envelopes. Additionally, each student got a page that had an organizational table for each of the examples.

During my first few classes of the day, I had the envelopes on a table and a student picked one to reorder with a partner. When they were done with one, they did another one. It was nice having them work together. However, I got the feeling that many of my students understood the completing the square process and steps, and weren't benefitting from this activity. Therefore, during my last few classes, I changed things up. I told students I wanted them to hold up a "1", "2" or a "3" with their fingers. A "3" means

**I could do this in my sleep it's so easy**. A "2" means

**I could use some more practice, but I have an okay idea of what's going on**. A "1" means

**Yeah... I'm lost**. If students held up a 1, I had them pick up an envelope and try to organize it (without the organizer chart page) on their desk. The rest of the students started on practice problems. This worked out really great because I could focus my attention on my Number 1 kids while the Number 3 kids helped the Number 2 kids on the practice questions.

An interesting thing happened in one of those classes. I had two boys who voted themselves as a "2", but thought they'd still benefit from the activity. They each tried organizing one on their own, and when they had finished, opted to try yet another! I love when students know what they need, and go for it! After these two boys had done a few of the organizing problems, they started on their practice problems for the day. When they finished, one of the boys asked me to come up with more examples that have the number in front of a (where a is not 1). So I wrote a few down on a scrap piece of paper, took a picture of it with the iPad, gave the student the paper, wrote solutions on the picture, and sent the freshly written answer key to the student through Edmodo! (If you aren't using

Edmodo at your school already, check it out!)

At the end of the following day, that student had an extra 10 minutes at the end of class. When asked what he should do I said he could always grab the test review if he wanted it early, but he didn't have any extra homework for this class. Comically he said, "Let me try my remedial learning problems...." as he pulled out the page I had given him the day earlier. By the time he left he told me he had them all right and felt much better about them!

Below are the documents I tweak from Mrs. Reilly's blog post. Please use and enjoy!

Student Sheet:

pdf
Station Sheets:

pdf