Three ways a free online course can help you blend algebra instruction


Did you know Curriculum Pathways resources include an entire online Algebra 1 Course? And it's much more than a typical math textbook.

The Algebra 1 Course consists of 46 lessons organized into 10 units. In addition, students can work through two pre-algebra units (7 lessons) in preparation for the course. Each lesson uses real-world examples, images, video, animation, audio, and manipulatives to engage students in the learning process and to develop students’ skills in problem-solving, reasoning, procedural fluency, and communication.

That’s great you say, but my students don’t need an online course: they have a live teacher -- me! Well that is true, and those are lucky students indeed. But let’s look at how the algebra course lessons can support classroom instruction; let’s talk blended learning.

Blended Learning Application 1: Real-World Examples

What math teacher hasn’t heard this: “When would I ever use (insert name of a math concept) in the real world?" Over the past few years, updates to standards in many states have emphasized the need for relevance in math instruction. Of course, good teachers have always used examples to explain relevance, but finding those examples day after day can be a chore.

Which brings us to the first blended learning feature of the algebra course. Each lesson includes specific real-world examples and requires the application of mathematical concepts. For example, here’s the introduction from the course unit on graphing linear equations. The lesson begins with a discussion of the decline of wild cheetah populations as an introduction to rate of change, slope, and graphing. That's right, we're talking about big cats today in math class!

Throughout the course lessons, real-world examples illuminate algebraic concepts. And those real-world applications go far beyond the lesson introductions. In this example from the unit on functions, the problem is based around data about blue whales.

Blended Learning Application 2: Remediation and Acceleration

In the age of individualized instruction, we want all students to have a learning experience that meets their specific needs. And teachers work hard every day to achieve that goal. But it’s hard, particularly with students either falling behind or surging ahead. How can you meet their needs without even more individualized planning?

The algebra course can help these students. For those in need of remediation, the course features core, standards-aligned content that can reteach concepts the student is struggling with, without the need for a teacher to develop an entirely new lesson. And let’s be honest here, asking a student to revisit work they’ve already done, no matter the outcome, is always a tough sell. The algebra course provides math teachers with a blended learning tool they can use to target specific areas students need help with, and the student can do that work independently.

For accelerated students the blended learning option is much the same. If they’re ready to move ahead with instruction, the algebra course units are there. Teachers can assign further practice in the current unit or allow the student to get a head start on the next. Again, the student works independently without the need for additional and detailed lesson planning.

Blended Learning Application 3: Quick Assessment

Every teacher knows this moment: It’s mid-October, and a new student enters your room with a note telling you he is now in your class. Whether that student is from another classroom or has just moved from another state is sort of beside the point. The pressing question is what do they already know and how can you assess that knowledge quickly? How do you determine the amount of "make up work" to give that kid, if any?

Again, the algebra course as a blended learning tool has the answer. The problems from the quiz section of each unit give you a quick online assessment tool to gauge knowledge and comprehension. And if the student shows a need for review, the course offers that functionality without the need to craft an individualized plan. Finally, the asynchronous function of the course allows a student to catch up to the class at her own speed -- and potentially, outside of class.

As you can see, there are at least three ways the online algebra course from Curriculum Pathways supports blended learning in classroom instruction.

And one last thing: I mentioned that it was all free, right?

Want to learn more about the (free) algebra course? Check out these blog posts!


About Author

Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore coordinates and conducts professional development for Curriculum Pathways. He works with schools and organizations around the country and has presented at conferences for organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A former army officer and social studies teacher, he spent 10 years on the Curriculum Pathways humanities team creating new digital curriculum products.

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