I'm taking on the task of writing a new curriculum this summer for our Advanced Algebra class. The old one sucks to say the least. It is copied from the text, topic by topic, chapter by chapter, from cover to cover. I thought it would be a novel idea to actually have one that is possible to finish. So...here's my task. I need to figure out what to cover. We have 90 days minus all the field trips, senior crud, assemblies, fire drills, bomb threats, absences, oh and testing...almost forgot testing! I figure 60 actual teaching days. This is the class after Algebra 2 and before Precalc. I have a book, but don't want to really use it to write the curriculum. What should it cover?

The course guide says we are supposed to cover way too much...I need to trim the fat... It says we will cover... 1. basic operations of polynomials 2. exponents 3. radicals 4. graphs 5. conic sections 6. systems of equations 7. problem solving with linear equations 8. quadratic equations 9. Inequalities 10. rational functions 11. exponential functions 12. logarithmic functions 13. determinants 14. sequences and series 15. basic concepts of trig

So...60 days divided by 15 topics is four 70 minute classes per topic. In my opinion, that's not nearly enough time devoted to each topic. What can I trim?

I have taught an Algebra II Trigonometry class (both a regular verison and an honors version) for the past two years. Just like your class, this is the class that students take before Precalculus. So I'll give you my thoughts. . . First, I can't believe you only have 60 teaching days! In my classes, I taught 12 units and each unit was about 9 class periods long. I also used a few days to review for final exams. In total, each class probably met around 115 times for 50 minutes each time. Given your situation, though, here is what you may be able to cut. You could take out conic sections, determinants, and sequences and series. These topics do not come up very often in future math or science classes. I'm also surprised that you have an entire unit on graphs. I refer to graphs throughout the entire year, mixed in with each unit. I do not think you need a chapter solely on graphs. For example, during the radicals unit, talk about the graph of the square root function. During the quadratics unit, discuss the graph of a quadratic function. And so on.

Out of those topics, I only covered 1,2,3,6,10 We start with 90 days each semester...minus 5 for finals and graduation practice, minus 3 for HSPA testing, minus 3 for MAP testing, minus 2-5 for senior class trip, minus 1 for senior picnic, minus 1 for "senior skip day", minus any unit test days...(5?) minus firedrills/bomb threats/weapon searches/drug searches/intruder drills/gunman drills/etc. Spring Concerts, class assemblies, anti-violence assemblies. We lost power 4 times this year which limits teaching. Each semester there is a week of half days for parent-teacher conferences(yes...in HS?!?!?!) 4 half days for teacher afternoon inservice. Half days before Easter, Christmas, prom. It's insanity. I miss traditional 180 day classes. At least when you missed 30 days for "shtuff" you still had a 150 to work with.

First off, check what the kids need to know for state exams. Second, I agree about jettisoning determinants entirely, but you can give conic sections and sequences/series a light brush-by...everything they'll remember about conic sections, they can learn in about a day, and you can put a few "continue the sequence" type problems into the problem solving with linear equations unit (which would be one to definitely keep if at all possible) and show them how to use constant first differences to come up with the equation...also that would be a good bridge to quadratic equations since you could throw them something with a constant second difference. I'd also mush exponents and exponential functions together. For systems of equations, I'd limit the strategies I tried to cover--my choices would be graphing, because they really do need that to visualize it, and either (if you only have to teach 2-variable systems) the semi-substitution method of solving each equation for y and setting the two formulas for y equal to each other, or (if you also have to teach 3-variable systems) Gaussian elimination. If pre-cal covers trig functions, spend 15 minutes right before the end of the course teaching them soh-cah-toa. If pre-cal won't cover trig functions, spend 15 minutes but it doesn't matter which 15; the ones who would remember it through a whole unrelated semester will remember it no matter when you teach it. Also, about unit test days...I would try really hard to not schedule those for a whole day. If you have block scheduling that means writing a test to take them an hour and a half or so...major burnout factor + too wide a range of when kids get done (early finishers run off the rails, late finishers not finishing before class lets out, complete insanity) + then you have to score the whole insane thing. Vastly preferable to have the test take something like half the time and then plug the kids into the first, albeit necessarily shorter, lesson of the next unit.