Factoring Review Sort

I taught Algebra II students how to factor quadratics in the form x2 + bx + c, ax2 + bx + c, difference of two squares, and perfect square trinomials with some GCFs thrown in for good measure.

But in the end, I wanted to convince myself that they really learned the difference between each type. I wanted some kind of sorting activity where students had to analyze the problem for which type and then solve. I couldn't really find what I had in mind so ta-da!

I made up 35 problems, seven groups of 5 problems each (with symbols on each to check their answers), and printed them on card stock.

Students cut them up and sorted them into the four main categories without GCFs first. Here are two different flow charts I made to help them. The second one seemed to work better.

Once they had those four groups, I told them that there should be five in each group. That prompted some rearranging. Then I gave them the correct symbols for those four groups. That's 20 problems out of the way.

Now students are left with 15 pieces that all have GCFs. So they had to divide the GCF out of each problem and see which of the original four groups the remaining problem fit with.

Once the last three groups are sorted, I again gave the correct symbols so they could check their answers. 

Then they had to actually write down the problems in the correct category on this worksheet and solve.

This can take anywhere from 3-4 class periods depending on how much you are willing to let the students struggle. But they practice telling the different types and then actually working 35 problems.

All files can be found below.


Dividing By Zero Posters

I found this pin on Pinterest after searching for dividing by zero memes but I never found a link.

So I made my own. Obvi.

And here's the file.

You're welcome.


Should I Eliminate Tests?

Here is how assessment works for me currently...


  • End of Course exam (teacher created) given the first few days of school, the last week before Christmas break, and at the end of April. In August it's recorded but not graded, in December it is worth half (so a 50% would be a 100%), and in April it is graded normally and students must pass it to pass the course. If they fail it they can take it again, if they fail the second time then they take summer school. Students must pass the EOC and the class.
  • Discovery Testing which is done by Discovery Education (must have an outside source test) in September, November, and February. Multiple choice, on the computer, and recorded but not graded.

My Class
  • Quizzes that student can retake as many times as they want which average 4 per unit.
  • Unit test which occurs every 4 concepts and students use their INB but can't retake it and I make sure the points for the test outweigh the points for quizzes.
  • Binder check worth 10 points once per quarter.
  • Semester Reflection paper worth 40 points once each semester

New This Year
  • PARCC for students who are in Algebra II only (Illinois is poor) in place of ACT for juniors only
  • Optional ACT for juniors who want to take it 

Cons of Unit Tests
  • I hate givings tests!! The students complain that I wait too long between tests. I do.
  • They complain that the test is over more than one unit. It's not. It's four concepts. Five at most.
  • I let them use their notebooks which is an internal struggle every time.
  • I hate grading tests!! It takes forever.
  • What does the grade on a unit test really mean?

Pros of Unit Tests
  • Mixes concepts together so that students have to apply different strategies
  • Students have to be able to tell the difference between concepts

So what I am thinking is what if I get rid of unit tests? If I write a quality EOC exam, it should be a cumulative review right? I could even give it at the end of each quarter and count that as an extra test grade. 

Does the EOC and Discovery test do a good enough job of applying mixed concepts? Does letting students use their notebooks seem more justifiable on a quarterly test? It is 35 multiple choice questions and 5 open ended questions so it would also be easier to grade and simultaneously less to grade.

If I give a quiz after each concept then I am assessing often. Then again, if I'm assessing right after I teach a concept, how do I show retention? Is the quarterly EOC enough to show retention?

But the question is....how do I know if they are really learning?

I feel like helping them learn how to study for a quarterly exam is more aligned to how college finals work. Ultimately, I'd like to create a syllabus similar to college courses that tell you the entire course is y amount of points, say 1000, and you need x amount of points to get an A, B, etc and have it laid out from the beginning.

Is that feasible?