Absolute Value Inequalities, a Release Valve

I hate teaching absolute value inequalities. Hate it. Like my kids hate kale. I taught it anyway, and my freshman loathed it even more. I could connect inequalities to our project but absolute value was kind of a stretch. “Some anarchist,” I hear you saying. But I’m new at this school and am trying to work with my department as much as possible. So I did it. I did some human number line graphs, an idea I got from Bob Lochel’s blog. I also used this conceptual approach from this NCTM article which helped. But I hate the idea of having a standard that you just “have to teach” but you can’t explain to your students why. That is generally the idea behind “good math teaching” though. You have a list of stuff you need to cover, and the best teachers find the best ways of getting that information across, as if your students were a class of willing receptacles eager to learn anything you have for them because they trust you and just need the best explanation. But if you have been teaching teenagers longer than say, a week, you probably realize that isn’t exactly the case. But still, sometimes you find yourself in that situation even when you don’t want to be. It’s what you get for teaching a subject that most people despise. Continue reading