“I feel like all we do is sit in a circle and talk about numbers. It doesn’t even feel like work.”

“This class is more exhausting than my PE class!”

“It’s nice to be confused and then un-confuse ourselves.”

These are words I’ve overheard from my college algebra students this year. I couldn’t be more pleased with the strides they are making with my problem-solving framework. I learned the hard way last year that you cannot just throw a problem solving scenario at a student and expect them to immediately persevere, even if they understand the underlying mathematics involved. Having learned from my mistake, I sequenced the problems this year in a way that has worked to build on their Algebra problem-solving skills. Furthermore, I’ve put them in groups of 3-4, which has helped tremendously in getting them to talk about their approaches. Last year, while in pairs, the conversations didn’t occur as naturally as I had hoped. Here are a few of the problems we’ve tried:

Additionally, we’ve used other Nrich problems such as Odds, Evens, and More Evens.

And to add some non-dairy whipped topping to this algebra awesomeness, my students are breezing through visual patterns and having some great conversations about them. Credit here is due to their fabulous algebra 2 teachers who began visual patterns with them last year and let them struggle with them. The result has been deeper connections and a more thorough understanding.