Nike Math

No…not a word problem about children and shoes.  I’m talkin’ “just do it.”

Completing the square is going (as was somewhat expected) fairly slowly the concept seems foreign to some students.  Which it is, so I’m not trying to put them down or anything like that.  But…after, once again, seeing a lot of blank homework sheets and hearing a lot of “but I didn’t know where to start” I got very frustrated.  I said … “well, writing down the problem would be a good start.  And you know your properties.  Do the same thing to both sides.  Mess around with it, see how to get to the answer.”

Connections are not made between topics and that frustrates me.  Another thing that frustrates me: that each section of the book is given a number.  Hey Holt, can we try NOT giving the chapters section numbers?  The idea of “oh, we’re on section 7.3.  We certainly won’t need section 1.4 again” feels way too common.  It also breeds useless competition between classes — “oh, you’re only on section 6.3?  We’re on 6.2, you must be behind!”  I don’t claim to have all the answers, or even a good majority of them (except if a student or family member or friend comes upon this blog.  Then the prior knowledge you had of “Andrew is always right” still holds), but I do notice this organization of things doesn’t seem the most effective.  Things would link together, the math book would be an enormous web of intertwining ideas.  Well great, if electronic.  But paper books make it pretty difficult to do that.  So — well, how’s about getting rid of sub-chapter numbers.  Sub-topics, sure, but just get rid of the numbers.  I think it would go a long way.  But anyway, back to completing the square.  I had two students come in after school today.  I gave them problem after problem after problem.  They just didn’t get the concept behind it.  I kept giving them problems, a la another homework assignment.  After several trials and errors, they both had the “a-ha” moment at the same time.  I gave them each a separate problem and had them work it out at desks instead of at the board in close proximity.  They both got it.  See?  I know homework can seem like busywork, and doing 15 problems that you understand completely is not my intent when I give homework.  You’re supposed to have to think.  If I wanted to give you homework that was easy and there would be no questions about, I’d give you 10 single-digit-positive integer addition problems.  Screw that, you’re in algebra 2, not kindergarten.

So yeah.  Just do the work, people.  Mess up a few times.  Get your hands dirty.  Erase.  Cross out.  Start over.  Rip up your paper and start a new one.  The satisfaction of getting it right on the third sheet of crumpled paper is greater than getting it right on the third line.

Trust me — I’ve tried blogging several times.  And while I realize I by no means have the popularity of a Dan or a Kate (thank you for the “genius method” chart, by the way.  I came across it over the summer and I was searching and searching because I forgot where I saw it.  Never again.  Bookmark everything.”) or any of the countless other math teacher bloggers out there, I feel like I’ve found my own personal niche, and I’m far more consistent than I was before.  But, failing a couple of times just makes me happier when I am frustrated, thrilled, lazy, whatever, but yet I still come back to little old wordpress and type away.  I also took several marketing classes, and by associating myself (hooray for pingback comments!) with some popular blogs, maybe I’ll be forced to improve myself if I have more than just my family following.  That’s all.  Mid-marking is next week already!

One last thing – tomorrow?  12/2.  Cycle day 6.  I’m so giddy!  12/2 = 6.  I think September 3 was cycle day 3, too…


About Mr. T

Well, I'm interested in math. Teaching it, learning it, describing it, living it. Creating it. Most importantly (to me) is helping others appreciate it as much as I do.
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