Making Algebra fun is hard. High schoolers aren’t exactly enthralled by math class. And taking notes is boring.
While I actually enjoy linear equations (graphing, slope, y=mx+b, Ax + By = C, etc.), the various terms, formulas, and functions can be very overwhelming for the students and there is a ton of new information to learn. I tried to make it more fun by using songs, games, and activities to teach the new concepts.
Something else that I found helped when I taught this unit was to use a flip chart for note taking. I think that just the novelty of taking notes in using this fun flip chart made the kids more likely to take notes and keep up with their notes. Well, that and the fact that I let them use it on the test.
I would hand the blank flip charts out at the beginning of the unit (you could definitely have them make their own while you gave instructions). I would give them a little time to decorate the outsides. I told them upfront that they would be able to use this flip chart on every quiz and test during the course of this unit. I also told them that they would receive a grade (a homework grade) at the end of the unit for keeping up with and completing their chart.
As we got to each new topic or concept of the unit I would show them the things they should write on each card. They were allowed to add as much extra stuff to their cards as they wanted (notes, examples), but I gave them a guideline of the most important things they needed to have.
Overall it worked really well. The kids were actually excited about taking notes just because it was something different.
While I chose to use this while teaching linear equations in Algebra 1, flip charts could be used for any topic, any subject, or any grade. They could also be used more as an assessment tool or project rather than for taking notes. The sky is the limit!
Ok, now for the (very easy) instructions.
- What you need: half as many file folders as you have students (one folder will make two flip charts), 10 notecards per students (or however many notecards you want in your chart), and tape.
- Cut each folder in half.
- Tape the notecards, staggered with one on top of each other, inside the folder. I usually stagger them so that the wide margin at the top of the notecard is hanging out – this gives a little flap for the students to use to label each card.
If you use these in your class, I’d love to hear about how you used them!