Learning Mathematical and Pedagogical Content (Algebra)

LearnZillion is a great resource to use for teachers who wish to refresh their knowledge of mathematical content as well as instructors who wish to deepen their understanding of what the content standards of the CCSS for Mathematics mean.

The site is easy to navigate and search. There is a search bar to look for specific content as well as easy to follow trails.  The math section of the website has over “1200 task-based lesson plans and more than 300 math video lessons and related resources.” The lesson plans have been written by members of the LearnZillion Dream team, which is composed of experienced teachers and specialists.

The site is a storehouse of standards-aligned math resources for grades 2-12. Consequently, some lessons, if intended to use in a classroom, may need to be adapted for adult use. However if the video resources or lessons are used to strengthen instructor knowledge then adaptation is not necessary.

The Algebra I subsection is my favorite because of the robust and innovative ideas for high emphasis HSE topics such as understanding functions, systems of linear equations, linear equations and representing relationships.  Each lesson in this unit identifies the CCSS content standard and standard practices that are being addressed, which is helpful for focused instruction. This section has an easy to understand coherent flow, which is great for teachers who are looking to provide coherence in their instruction.

Two of my favorite videos that I watch to refresh my memory or to deepen my understanding are:

  • Solve systems of linear equations by the addition/elimination method. This video is labeled as a prior knowledge video within a great lesson to use with students called “determine whether graphing, substitution or elimination is the efficient method of solving systems.” But prior knowledge videos within the lesson are a treasure chest for teachers to strengthen their understanding, which will only strengthen the instruction provided to students
  • Determine which operations are closed for polynomials. This video is one of six in a mini-unit developed to address a specific content standard within the CCSS. It has great illustrations and the information is so clear and concise. Sometimes content standards are difficult to deconstruct, and this is one of many great units/lessons which make the task of understanding that much easier.

LearnZillion is a valuable tool, but could feel overwhelming at first. You could begin with any of the specified lessons here to build your comfort and then expand out or you could dive right in and explore by searching for specific content. There are full length lesson plans which even include teacher scripts, student notes and external handouts as well as video lessons that are designed for students to actually watch and engage in the learning.


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About Cynthia Bell

Cynthia Bell is a Numeracy & Youth Specialist at the Literacy Assistance Center. She develops curriculum and specializes in the College and Career Readiness standards for mathematics. Cynthia conducts numeracy workshops for Adult Basic Education & Out of School Youth instructors and trainings in implementing the standards for High School Equivalency (HSE) instructors. When she’s not training she is coaching instructors in the best practices of teaching and learning mathematics. She has presented at international, national, state and regional conferences, and is an active board member of ANN (Adult Numeracy Network) and affiliate delegate of NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).

4 thoughts on “Learning Mathematical and Pedagogical Content (Algebra)

  1. I think this is a great resource for teachers in adult ed, especially now that the TASC includes questions on polynomials and other subjects that weren’t on the old GED. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at polynomials (actually, it was that math requirement for my English degree back in ’92), so I’m happy to have a place where I can refresh my memory and aquaint myself with things I never learned.

    I do have a couple recommendations, though, for using resources like this. First of all, as a learner myself, I want to be careful about learning procedures without having an understanding of why they work or why they make sense. The video on systems of equations explains a procedure for solving problems, while the second video on polynomials presents a conceptual understanding. For myself and certainly for my students, I want to proceed carefully and check for understanding conceptually and procedurally along the way. Because these are short videos, I think it’s easy to pass over some questions and ideas that are important. For example, I didn’t hear an explanation of what it means for a polynomial to be closed. I figured that part out, but now I’m not sure why that’s important. The video didn’t give me any direction to think about that. Why do I care for which operations a polynomial is closed?

    My recommendation for the procedural video on systems of equations, and others like it, is that you stop the video as soon as an example is set up and then solve it on your own. Come back to the video and see if you were able to predict what would happen in the video. If there was a difference in your approach, as there was in mine, ask yourself what was different and why. Do both methods work? Is there more than one way to do it? What methods wouldn’t work?

    I didn’t watch the whole series for each video, so maybe some of my questions would have been answered if I watched them in order. I’ll do that next. Thanks for the resource!

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  2. I have found that the Learn Zillion website is a good source for providing clear steps when anyone like a teacher or students would like to get the general idea of just how the product of the multiplication of a fraction less than one by a whole number will give a smaller number that the whole number with examples using the number line to show that it is not that because you are multiplying you would expect to always get a product that is larger than the whole number. To clearly express my views here please click on the following link to view the Video Lesson:


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