kids these days….

Hello world, I need advice.

I had a 30 point test.  We’re on solving systems of equations, by graphing and by substitution (elimination next week).  But anyway, I had 3 questions on the front page to solve by graphing.

For one thing, a set of linear equations with a 3″ x 3″ part of a coordinate plane next to is should tip you off that you probably have to GRAPH something?

For another thing, the enormous, bold, underlined, capital, italicized print “GRAPH THE SYSTEM OF EQUATIONS” should tip you off?

For a third and final clue, when you decided not to read the instructions or figure out from the graph, but raise your hand during the test and ask “do we have to graph these?” to which the response was “if you want credit, yes,” that should tip you off.

So if they start off losing 6 out of 30 points without me even LOOKING at their work, should I even both grading it, or just go back and reteach?  They know how to graph lines when it’s one at a time.  They really do.  They did well on graphing individual lines.  I introduced systems as “the exact same thing as graphing lines, except now you will have more than one line on the same graph.”  I might as well be teaching Quantum Physics.  They’re completely lost.  Do I just cut my losses and go on?  They seem much better with elimination and substitution.

I know how my algebra 2 students are at graphing.  Literally.  Algebra 2 students who can’t graph y = 3x + 5.  So I know what the answer in their algebra teacher’s mind was.  Sure, I’ll let it go.  They don’t need to know how to graph.  And if they do, it won’t be my problem when they’re not in my class anymore.  I’m at a loss, I really am.  And I could just say “well, I said I’d drop the lowest test grade of the quarter, and for all of you — this was it.  You’re welcome.”  And go on…I know we need to get through material, but if these are the thoughts going through my head (and not just mine…) is rushing through the book just to say “woo-hoo!  It’s June, and we made it through the book!  We didn’t really understand it.  And we don’t remember a thing about it.  And next year, you’ll have to spend the first 3 months re-teaching me.  And then rush to get through.  And then, the next year, spend the first 3 months reteaching THAT.  And then, if/when I go to college, I’ll be stuck in college algebra and be miserable because I’ve taken algebra 3 times before.  And didn’t get it then.  So I’m frustrated beyond belief right now.  So I’m not going to try.  So my first semester of college will have a mediocre GPA that will be hard for me to come back from, unless I bust my ass studying.  Which, as you can tell from my academic history, is not my strong suit.  So I’ll struggle through the tens of thousands of dollars and best years of my life to get the ridiculously overpriced piece of paper.  I know there are studies that say college graduates make more than non-graduates.  But most of them involve a linear estimation of earnings over a lifetime.  Which I can’t read because I have no idea how to graph an effing line.

The end.  Goodnight.

Rant over.

**But on a good note, and it came at the end of the day which was much-needed, we did some groupwork on completing the square to solve quadratics.  At one table, all 4 of the students had their hands raised (which was also good news!) pretty eagerly, actually.  So I walked over to see what was the matter.  I heard “Mr. Thomas, we found a shortcut.”  I asked them what it was.  They explained to me the quadratic formula.  They were using “this number” and “half of this number” rather than A and B, but I was thrilled.  Taking a concept that is admittedly not very career-oriented but for a select set of careers, but still thinking about ways to get shortcuts.  AND!  When I wrote Ax^2 + Bx + C = 0 on the board behind them and asked them to solve for x?  Eureka!  The quadratic formula.  It was near the end of class, so I didn’t enlighten the whole class, but I did pawn off my teaching of that section to them….


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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