Algebra I Critical Areas

CRITICAL AREA #1: Deepen and extend understanding of linear and exponential relationships
By the end of eighth grade, students have learned to solve linear equations in one variable and have applied graphical and algebraic methods to analyze and solve systems of linear equations in two variables. In Algebra I, students analyze and explain the process of solving an equation and justify the process used in solving a system of equations. Students develop fluency writing, interpreting, and translating among various forms of linear equations and inequalities, and use them to solve problems. They master the solution of linear equations and apply related solution techniques and the laws of exponents to the creation and solution of simple exponential equations.

CRITICAL AREA #2: Contrast linear and exponential relationships with each other and engage in methods for analyzing, solving, and using quadratic functions
In earlier grades, students define, evaluate, and compare functions, and use them to model relationships between quantities. In Algebra I, students learn function notation and develop the concepts of domain and range. They focus on linear, quadratic, and exponential functions, including sequences, and also explore absolute value, step, and piecewise-defined functions; they interpret functions given graphically, numerically, symbolically, and verbally; translate between representations; and understand the limitations of various representations. Students build on and extend their understanding of integer exponents to consider exponential functions. They compare and contrast linear and exponential functions, distinguishing between additive and multiplicative change. Students explore systems of equations and inequalities, and they find and interpret their solutions. They interpret arithmetic sequences as linear functions and geometric sequences as exponential functions.

CRITICAL AREA #3: Extend the laws of exponents to square and cube roots
Students extend the laws of exponents to rational exponents involving square and cube roots and apply this new understanding of number; they strengthen their ability to see structure in and create quadratic and exponential expressions. They create and solve equations, inequalities, and systems of equations involving quadratic expressions. Students become facile with algebraic manipulation, including rearranging and collecting terms, and factoring, identifying, and canceling common factors in rational expressions. Students consider quadratic functions, comparing the key characteristics of quadratic functions to those of linear and exponential functions. They select from among these functions to model phenomena. Students learn to anticipate the graph of a quadratic function by interpreting various forms of quadratic expressions. In particular, they identify the real solutions of a quadratic equation as the zeros of a related quadratic function. Students expand their experience with functions to include more specialized functions—absolute value, step, and those that are piecewise-defined.

CRITICAL AREA #4: Apply linear models to data that exhibit a linear trend
Building upon their prior experiences with data, students explore a more formal means of assessing how a model fits data. Students use regression techniques to describe approximately linear relationships between quantities. They use graphical representations and knowledge of context to make judgments about the appropriateness of linear models. With linear models, they look at residuals to analyze the goodness of fit.
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