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The penultimate grades were due this morning, even though the entry window on our system goes through tomorrow (blame paranoid administrators who set early deadlines because they can’t trust teachers to keep a real one).

Today I tested my kids on graphing point slope form (very old, and something they’d struggled with) and multiplying binomials (new, and I needed to get a test in).

They killed it. More perfect scores than I’d seen ever from them. Enough that enough of their grades changed and I promised to sneak in the changes (which is what will be mailed home) even though they won’t match the paper record as of yesterday.

Why now, instead of 6 months ago?

{ 7 } Comments

  1. David P | May 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ll never understand them, but congrats! I think students do equate “math” with “algorithms” and if you explicitly state the steps of how to work a problem, they’ll follow blindly. Some may ask “why are we doing this” but then tune out if you have a real answer.

  2. Jason Dyer | May 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I remember in high school struggling throughout Calculus in the class proper but pulling a 5 on the AP. Sometimes the concepts just need time to simmer before they click.

    I forget, are you a Ban FOIL person? (For some strange reason I’ve never had to teach multiplying binomials in my career, but I’d likely start with the distributive and geometrical versions and only if they discover the ‘pattern’ for two binomials on their own would I let them do FOIL.)

  3. Kate | May 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Well…they are 6 months older. At the end of the school year, not the beginning. They’ve solved hundreds of problems in between, many of which may have taught them more pieces of the concept. Maybe approaching them as problems which to bring their abilities and understanding to bear, instead of something with a formulaic recipe to remember. It’s a sign you’re doing it right! Good work.

  4. Tom Escott | May 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Obviously, you are a better teacher than you were 6 months ago. I regret that I only now discovered your blog. I think we have a lot in common.

  5. Mr. K | May 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I am totally an anti foil person.

    I’ve got a post on this coming up. I’m way behind in actual math posts, and I need to just dump it out here.

    As for being a better teacher than I was 6 months ago, I’m going to assume that’s a funny.

  6. Sarah | May 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Yay subversive grade entering!

    Our grades were due yesterday, but seniors had their deadline a week ago. So I gave my final a week and a half ago. I let kids practice and retest. It’s helped. My theory is that the pressure of final grades does motivate some to practice enough to learn. (I’m also frustrated with the level of understanding they have now. They’re not walking out with the deep understanding. Alas.

  7. Alex | May 25, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I’m a fellow math teacher. I stumbled across your blog. I agree about FOIL. It’s garbage. We do the “box method”, and when my Algebra I kids (some of whom are taking the class for the third time) factor trinomials, they do it with ease (sort of, would be easier if multiplying and adding mixed numbers were faster, but so would a lot of things).