Math = Love: Quadratic Formula Templates

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quadratic Formula Templates

This week, my Algebra 2 students started solving quadratics using the quadratic formula.  Wednesday, I passed out one of my favorite homework assignments of the year to get them started off right.  

This year, I didn't teach it to them to the tune of quadratic formula.  Instead, I gave them the paper, let them freak out a bit and try to memorize it on their own.  A few students remembered their older siblings singing the song and filled the rest of the class in on how it went.  That was fun to see.  :)  I also told them to check out YouTube to find a version of the song that would help them remember it.  
Yesterday, I knew I wanted to create a notes template that would help them organize their work.  In the past, I've done a Tangram Puzzle for them to cut and paste in their notebooks.  

This was cute, but my I found my students need A LOT more help with setting up the problems than I have given in the past.  So, I whipped up this template on my planning period:

I inserted it into a quick booklet foldable with two example problems for my students to work through.  

My students seemed to understand where the a, b, and c came from much easier with this template.  Of course, they freaked out a bit when the imaginary numbers came into play...

After working through the practice problems, I set each group up with a Quadratic Formula Question Stack Activity.  The cards I use are hand-written because I made them last year before I had a computer template, so I don't have a set to share.  Sorry!  (But, you can learn more about Question Stacks here.)

I decided at the last minute that I should make them a dry erase template to help set up each problem. I just cut and pasted the template from the notes onto a blank document and increased the font.

They weren't pretty, but they worked.  We slid them into these dry erase pockets to make them erasable and reusable.

The kids insisted we get out the red/yellow/green cups so they could indicate when their group was having trouble.  The thing that I liked the best from this was that when a group was having problems, it was super easy for me to figure out if they had even set up their problem correctly since that's where I find most errors occur when working with the quadratic formula.

I tweeted a picture from this lesson, and John Golden suggested using different shapes for a, b, and c.

Of course, I had to pretty-up my dry erase template for the future, so I created two versions.

Version 1: Regular Rectangles

Version 2: Different Shapes

All files can be found here.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I would have loved to have had this a few weeks ago. We spent several days on quadratic formula, and we will be revisiting it often this semester (whenever we get to go to school and it stops snowing)!

  2. Do you think the student realize/recognize that each shape represents a set of parentheses?

    1. I was just thinking that...especially on the b squared and how easy it would be to make that oval into a set of parentheses.

  3. Fun. Quizzing on this topic today but we will be going on a week long break so this will be a good activity the day we come back to review since our test will be that week.

  4. LOVE!!! We are totally on the same page here. I have always taught my students to set up the "framework" as I called it and then go back and plug the numbers into the holes. I was just getting ready to create my guided notes when you posted this. Thank you so much.

  5. Wow! This is going to be super helpful! Thank you so much!

  6. I am not really anonymous. I am technology deficient. My name is Donna and I teach Algebra 1. I tell mine the Billy and Bob story to help them memorize the quadratic formula. And it seems to help make the process not so intimidating.


    1. Hey Donna! I never heard of the Billy and Bob story. Would you care to share it? Thanks!

  7. Thank you so much for this great idea! I am going to use the idea of your templates, cups, and question stacks tomorrow for my Algebra IB class :). I also made a question stack from your template for this topic. Would you like me to email it to you or is there a better way to share it?


    1. I'd love a copy! My email address is mathequalslove (at) gmail (dot) com.