This May, 42 math teachers and Project Directors participated in Focus on Algebra Part II: Quadratic Functions. This is the second PDA (Professional Development Academy) in the Focus on Algebra series designed and presented by Pam Harris. The Focus on Algebra PDA series is based on teaching algebra through investigating the big ideas of functions. Knowledge gained during the PDA is used to provide professional development to middle and high school teachers throughout the upcoming summer and the next school year. Participants learn how to use the graphing calculator as a tool for introducing, exploring and solidifying these concepts. Teachers also learn how to recognize and respond to student strengths and weaknesses while students are learning, rather than waiting until the end-of-unit test.
The Focus on Algebra series includes viewing video clips of a 9th grade class engaged in the tasks presented in the PDA. The clips are organized so teachers can learn how to launch a problem solving session, what to do during student work time, how to respond to students as they work though the problems, and how to conduct effective whole group discussions. Focus on Algebra Part III: Exponential Functions will be offered in the Spring of 2015.