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May 2010

Teaching to the test, parabola style

Last year, I taught my kids to graph parabolas, and to solve all those drop a ball off of a balcony problems. And they did horrible at it come test time1. I don’t have a complete answer to the word problems yet, but they knocked the graphing questions out of the park. The trick is […]

Factoring, up or otherwise

SamJShah posted about factoring up, and his concerns that it relies on some magic that hides deeper mathematical understanding. I share his concerns about that method. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to do it that builds on prior knowledge, rather than relying on legerdemain. It goes back to teaching binomial multiplication – I rely mostly […]

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How to tell if a teacher is going to be bad on the first day of school

Polled some of my kids today on how they can tell if a teacher is going to be ineffective or not. Without any ordering or filtering, here were some of the first day warnings they had: Angry or mean face Condescending attitude Messy/disorganized classroom(+)[1] Too emotional Yelling (++) Too friendly Too much info too fast […]