Friday, January 23, 2015

Math: Week 19

MSM2 Blocks 1/2 & 7/8
SOLs Covered:  SOL 7.4 & 8.3 Proportional Reasoning
Math Packet:  Proportional Reasoning Study Guide
Upcoming Assessments:  Proportional Reasoning Test (Mon. 1/26 & Tues. 1/27)

7H Block 5/6
SOLs Covered:  SOL A.2b Polynomials
Math Packet:  #13 Polynomials
Upcoming Assessments:  Polynomials Wrap-up (Mon. 1/26, not a grade); Pyth. Theorem Quiz TBD

Things are starting to wind down now for the first semester, so I'd like to start with a reminder about grades.  Students have had opportunities all term to pull their grades up, but the deadline for any error analysis on old assessments and turning in missing/incomplete work is Tuesday, January 27th.  The final extra credit opportunity (Around the World currency project located in the math class folder on Google Drive) is due Monday, January 26th.  Please encourage the kids to take advantage of these last opportunities.

This is a great lead in for what the MSM2 students worked on this week.  After reviewing the previous week's material on Tuesday, the students took a quiz on consumer math (fancy math teacher term that just means problems dealing with money).  Grades were not quite what some of the students were expecting, but not really because they didn't understand the concepts.  Some of the biggest mistakes were relatively minor errors that made a huge impact on their answers and thus their grades.  Some students forgot to move the decimal correctly when turning percents into decimals (ex. 7% is 0.07 while 70% is 0.7) for solving problems involving tax, tip, etc.  There were also some small slip ups involving rounding money correctly; money is down to two decimal places (unless the problem specifies to round differently, such as to the nearest whole dollar), so forgetting to add a zero to "fill" that second place (ex. not 1.5 but $1.50) or not rounding a longer decimal correctly (ex. not 1.6275 nor 1.62 nor 1.60 but $1.63) will result in a wrong answer, especially if the problem is a fill-in-the-blank question.  There were also simple issues of not putting numbers in the correct place when setting up the problems.  We had a lot of discussion about this while we reviewed Thursday and Friday for next week's test, but I would appreciate it if you would remind the kids to work carefully in addition to encouraging them to take advantage of the change to pull their grades up.

The 7H students were introduced to polynomials and while adding and subtracting polynomials wasn't too difficult since we've covered combining like terms, multiplying them kind of blew their minds for a bit.  I showed them three different methods for solving multiplication problems: the traditional FOIL (First, Outside, Inside, Last), using algebra tiles to model, and the "grid method" that breaks down the multiplication like and "old school" times table.  While most of the kids have their preferred method now (most aren't too found of the algebra tiles), they do need to understand all the methods since SOLs could ask them questions in different ways.  When a standard specifies modeling, students will likely get at least one question involving pictures (like the algebra tiles), so not showing them all the methods is not really an option.  I can sympathize with the kids who totally understand and like one way over another to solve problems, but they need to vary their methods to get practice with all of them.  Since this is a high school level standard (though required by the county as part of the 7H curriculum), it will not be tested on their SOL test this year, so I've decided that instead of giving a test, I'll have them do a small wrap up of the topic on Interactive Achievement (our online testing system) so they can get a taste of how these questions will be asked.

I encourage students to email/message me over the weekend if they have any questions.  With our technology, I can offer a lot more help digitally for students outside of school hours; being able to show the steps of solving different problems and respond in real-time if we both happen to be online has added a whole new layer to teaching.  I'm going to end things here for today since my lunch group will be getting back to class soon; normally I save this for my after school work time, but I need to get a bit earlier than my usual late Friday hours.

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