SBG: Take 1

So for some reason I have decided right now is the time to start on my plans for implementing SBG.(Part of my whole I-need-to-do-something-schooly-every-single-day-of-summer-so-I-don't-feel-guilty sickness)  I'm kind of a perfectionist, go big or go home type, so I really want to implement this in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 (which I am teaching for the first time). Here's my plan of attack (I think):

  1. Create scope/sequences of class (topics/units, basically titles)
  2. Create concept lists (specific skills)
  3. Create mid term and final exams (Or maybe just finals?)
  4. Create easy and challenging assessments for each skill
  5. Backwards planning lessons from there?

Does this make sense people? I don't know what I'm doing here! 

In the comments, betweenthenumbers suggested we start a wiki/blog project for first time SBGers. Interested? I'm game.

I'm starting with Algebra 1 because I feel the most comfortable with it. Even though I only have one section of it with 9 students. I have two sections of geometry with 35-40 students so hopefully doing Algebra first will prepare me for tackling that (at least that's what I'm telling myself).

Should I do all 5 steps for Algebra 1 and then move on to the other courses? Or should I do step 1 of all three courses, then step 2, and so on? I'm kind of leaning towards the latter but I'm predicting you guys tell me to do the former. Hm.

Here are the unit/topics and the order I have them in for Algebra 1:

  • Equations
  • Inequalities
  • Functions
  • Linear Functions
  • Systems of Linear Equations
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials
  • Factoring
  • Quadratic Functions and Equations
  • Exponential and Radical Functions
  • Rational Functions and Equations

Does this make sense? Please advise. Last year, I didn't get past Factoring. Part of that was because I waste practically the first two weeks doing nothing because I was scared out of mind and didn't have a clue how to start actually teaching. Also, I spent entirely too long on slope and linear functions and just...screwed that all up. So now that I know that, I can fix that and get farther along. Also, I want to cut out all the beginning of the year review crap. What is the first actual Algebra 1 topic that we should start with? I want to embed review throughout each unit where needed. So I'm asking you, what can I trim off the front end? Where should I start Algebra 1?

Also, I was looking over the table of contents to Algebra 2 and it is almost identical to Algebra 1. What is up with that? Where should Algebra 1 truly end and Algebra 2 actually begin? 

I am struggling to come up with topic lists for Geometry and Algebra 2 before I even break it down into the more specific skill lists. Help?

These are not hypothetical questions people.

I need answers.

It is 8:42 on a Wednesday night and I am ready to get crackin on this stuff!


  1. Hi! I am also thinking I am going to do SBG in the fall. As far as your order of Algebra 1 topics, I think you've set them up in a great order. I'm not totally sure about past quadratic functions whether to do exponential/radical then rational or vice versa.

    I have taught Algebra 2 most of my 18 years teaching. I have ended up spending much of the first semester reviewing Algebra 1 and then getting into further Algebra topics in the second semester. I am still playing around with the order but I have usually done something like this:

    Functions/Linear Functions
    Matrices (first NEW topic)

    Then I haven't totally figured out from here as I've adjusted things.

    Last year I did:
    Solving Quadratics
    Graphing Polynomials
    Rational Functions
    Exponential Functions
    and last year that was as far as I got.

    I'd probably go from here with some probability/stats.

    I teach Advanced Algebra 2 and Algebra 2. Ohio now requires (starting with the freshmen this year) that every student graduates with 4 credits of Math including Algebra 2 or an Algebra 2 equivalent. Adv Alg 2 is what we used to teach, now only the top kids get it (which will be better as far as getting into more topics). Alg 2 is watered down and that has been difficult for me.

    Feel free to bounce your Alg 2 ideas off me, I'd be happy to offer what I can.

    Anyway - I follow you on Twitter and tried to send you tweets but I figured out you're not following me. (I'm @Mrs_LHenry) I'd love to be a part of the 1st year SBGers if you guys form that. Please let me know. Thanks!

  2. Hi Lisa,

    The only actual new topics I see for Algebra 2 that you listed are matrices, graphing polynomials, and logarithms. I hate that! We are wasting time that way. But I don't know how to fix.

    I would also love to add in some statistics but just can't find the time!

    I will definitely be begging, borrowing, and stealing anything you have. And I will have tons of questions for sure. I followed you on twitter so be prepared to be inundated!

  3. WOW - i saw your Alg I curriculum, and I was like "hm. that's my Alg II curriculum."

    We had that happen between Alg II & Precalc in my school, so we took a good hard look at it all and revised it so there is little overlap. We now both get to teach with a little more depth and less breadth.

    Anyway, I am not too much help here. Just wanted to point out that your problem is not isolated.

  4. Sam,
    What is the first topic you teach that is ACTUALLY Algebra 2?

    Is there anything you would cut out of what I listed for Algebra 1?

  5. Here's our Alg2:

    Equations/Inequalities (very very short)
    Linear Functions
    Systems of Equations/Inequalities (more in depth than Alg1 including linear programming)
    Basic Matrices (including augmented)
    Quadratic Functions
    Polynomial Functions
    Radical Functions
    Exponetial/Logarithmic Functions
    Rational Functions
    Conic Sections

    If time: Prob/Stat & Basic Trig

  6. MizT,

    Thanks for posting. Is linear functions a review from Algebra 1 too or do you feel like you are basically reteaching it?

    Do you get all the way through all those topics?

    Do you feel any of these could/should be done in a different order?

  7. I agree with your connection between Alg 1 and Alg 2... there's a ton of overlap... seems like since there's usually a year layoff (geometry) alg 2 curriculum builds in the reteaching units in the books...

    I like your plan. as I just implemented the change last year.. If you need any resources, check out my blog, or let me know.



  8. So impressed with you for just jumping into this. I am doing a "trial run" #SBG this year - just putting my toes in the water.

    I loved the idea of making a #SGB for beginners wiki / blog. I am very interested in this so I'll take on the wiki part of that and open it on the math wiki now.


    There, done! Or should I say, started...

  9. Re: Linear Functions - that is when we introduce compositions, operations with functions, domain restrictions, absolute value functions, basic piecewise functions, and into to transformations, so there is some review, some new..

    And yes, we get through all of that before mid-April (our End of Instruction exams start around April 20th or so).

    Hope that helps!

  10. Eric,
    I guess your write about Geometry sneaking up there in the middle of everything.

    So the overlap makes more sense, but I still don't like it.

    Any advice on implementing would be appreciated.

  11. ispeakmath,

    Isn't it past your bedtime? ;)

    I still may start a separate wiki for all this but it can't hurt to have in both places.

    Miz T,

    Do you go by a pacing guide or anything that orders your lessons within each unit?

  12. I'm going to try a modified version of SBG next year - In my district we have common assessments we must give each unit, so I'm going to use SBG for quizzes - is that cheating? I would definitely love to be part of a first-timers community!

    I teach Algebra 1 and Precalc, so I am going to start by working out the sequencing for both classes so I feel like I've accomplished something big, and then move on to the individual skills.

    Here is my order for Algebra 1 topics:
    Algebra Concepts (expressions, order of ops, integer rules)
    Graphing Lines
    Writing Equations
    Systems of Equations
    Rational Functions
    (State Testing)
    Radical Functions

  13. Justina,

    I am also starting with sequencing. Which I guess you've noticed.

    I like your list a lot. A lot lot. I pretty much used Equations as an umbrella for what you've listed as Algebra Concepts.

    I'm interested in why Functions come between Graphing Lines and Writing Equations?

    Do quadratic functions fall under quadratics and exponential functions under exponents or what?

  14. I have always been annoyed that kids have to take Algebra II when, as you said, most of the material is repeated.

    At the Southwest Early College Campus in Kansas City, MO, the kids take college algebra for college credit instead. Then they go on to trigonometry and calculus.

    It wouldn't hurt to suggest it to the powers that be.

  15. Lori,
    Interesting idea. But then someone would have to teach it. Egads!

  16. We actually do functions within the same unit as graphing lines. I start with functions - domain/range and input/output then use that as a lead in to making x-y tables. We talk about what it means to be a function, and then look at lines as one special type of function.

    Quadratic functions do fall into the quadratics unit.

    Exponential functions aren't part of the CA standards so we don't teach them, but I think our book puts them in the same chapter as the exponent rules.

  17. Don't worry. There is little difference. YOU COULD DO IT! Use your PLN :D

  18. I know my comment is super late to the party here, but while there is overlap between Algebra 1 and 2, that overlap is almost welcome using SBG. While I wouldn't want to overwhelm you in your first attempt using SBG, I bet you can imagine a multi-year progression where Algebra 1 students who master more topics then face fewer in Algebra 2, either because you give them credit for what they did in Algebra 1 or you allow them to quickly test out of them once Algebra 2 begins.

    That's an ideal situation, but feel comfortable setting some limits to how far ahead some students are allowed to work. There are times you'll want students to delve into a topic more deeply and stay with the rest of the class rather than working ahead. Good luck!