Math = Love: Quadratic Formula Interactive Notebook Page

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quadratic Formula Interactive Notebook Page

Well, since I posted my very own quadratic formula song yesterday, I guess it's only fitting that I post the rest of my quadratic formula stuff from last year on my blog.  This post has been setting in my drafts folder since Pi Day.  I obviously need to blog more often...  

My first goal was to get kids to memorize the quadratic formula.  I know from reading a lot of other math teacher blogs that many states provide students with the quadratic formula on a formula sheet on their state standardized tests.  Oklahoma is not one of those states  If they want students to specifically use the quadratic formula on a certain problem, they may provide it in a box next to the problem.  But, what if my students want to use the formula at other times?  If they don't have it memorized, then it can't be a tool in their tool box.  

Inspired by Journal Wizard, I decided to make a tangram puzzle with the quadratic formula written on it.  I've uploaded a template for the tangram puzzle below, but if you want to use this, you will have to write the quadratic formula on it yourself and cut apart the pieces to scramble the puzzle.  This was one of those interactive notebook pages that was thrown together 7 minutes before first hour started.  I tend to have a lot of these...  

Give the kids the scrambled tangram pieces.  Let them cut it out and assemble the puzzle.  Glue in your notebook.  

We've already talked about solving by factoring and solving by square rooting.  But, both of these required our equation to be just right in order to use the method.  The great thing about the quadratic formula is that it ALWAYS works.  

After gluing in the formula, we did an example to keep in our notebooks.  

Honestly, though, most of the first day we spent on the quadratic formula was focused on memorizing it.  It didn't help that 50% of my Algebra 2 classes were gone on this day either...

Emily shared several versions of the quadratic formula song with me.  I already knew the Pop Goes the Weasel version from high school.  The other two versions gave me and my kids trouble.  You never know until you try, though.

We also watched two versions of the quadratic formula on Youtube: Adele and One Direction.

I'd read about a teacher having their students sing/recite the quadratic formula to another teacher as an assignment before, and I decided I had to try it.

Here's the very official looking form I made up:

To make sure that students could recite the formula to anyone, I wrote out the formula both in "math" and in "English."  We only have 12 teachers in our high school, so I was afraid that they were going to get mad at me/frustrated with hearing the song from the 36 or so Algebra 2 students I had last year.  But, I'm not sure a single teacher ever actually mentioned the assignment to me.  Hmmm...

There are several possibilities here.
1.  My students never actually recited the formula or sang the song for their teachers.  Instead, they forged their signatures.

2.  The teachers thought it was a perfectly normal assignment and felt no need to comment on it.

3.  The teachers thought this was a crazy assignment, but they also think of me as a teacher with crazy ideas.  So, this came as no surprise to them.


Pop Goes The Weasel ended up being the most popular way, by far, to memorize the formula.  My Algebra 2 classes quickly fell in love with the song.  And, they would break out into song quite often.  Anytime I would write the quadratic formula on the board, I would sing the lyrics as I wrote them.  My students started doing the same.

Last year, I did a great job of getting kids to memorize the formula.  I did a much worse of getting them to use it properly.  Positive and negatives ended up tripping them up way too much.  Plus, they all preferred to solve their quadratics by graphing when given the choice...  This is on my list of things to improve upon for this current school year.

Download files for the tangram and the quadratic formula memorization/recitation assignment here.  


  1. Do you have them also derive it from memory? I did a few cool things to help my students understand and memorize how to derive the quadratic formula.

    Every night I gave my students homework on deriving it. The sheet had the derivation on the left with blanks to fill in and they had to explain each step on the right. I gave them this for a couple of weeks.

    Every day at the beginning of class in their teams I had them derive it on a team whiteboard. After 5 minutes, I had them look at their notes to complete where they got stuck. By the end of week one most teams could derive it from memory.

    I also gave a creative narrative writing assignment The Quadratic Formula and the Three Little Letters. Let me know if you want a copy of my writing assignment.

    Just thought i would share my ideas since i so I miss teaching Algebra. :o)

  2. My students loved this lesson! The song they wanted to memorize was the adaption from Adele's "Rolling in the deep". They even wanted to perform the song in front of the school for extra credit!

  3. I learned it to the tune of "hail to the victors", the university of Michigan's fight song. This is especially odd as I grew up just outside of Columbus, OH, basically in the backyard of Ohio State.

  4. Bam. You're awesome. My 8th graders quietly sat (they never quietly sit) and put their tangram together, glued it in their notebooks. I gave them the quadratic formula page on the way out the door. It's for bonus points. They will all know it by Monday. Thanks for taking the time to publish all of this!

    1. Thanks Bridgett! Glad to hear this worked for you and your students!