Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 20 2011

Quickest post ever

I have WAY too much to do right now, including planning Math for tomorrow and writing substitute plans for Thursday and Friday (when I have yet another, 8am to 4pm Thursday-Saturday training, during which I cannot be sure my children will be learning anything). But I wanted to do a quick best part/worst part for today, because it’s been too long (p.s. this is a great conversation starter for low-language ability or young kids).

Worst part: I’m terribly sick and wanted nothing more than to stay in bed this morning. But instead I was at school working 6:45 to 2:30, then running my afterschool tutoring 2:30-4:45, then booking it over to graduate school class 5:30-8. It’s now 8:43, and I can start working (but instead I’m writing to you. Whoops.). Ugh. OK enough complaining, now.

Best part: We started learning how to write equations with variables today and also tried to learn how to solve for the variable, which went over very poorly because the problems that are easy enough to start with are also so easy you can figure it out without balancing the equation, so no one bothered to listen to that part. This will suck when our equations get harder. BUT my kiddos who came to afterschool, who are the lowest in the class in reading and often in math too, worked through the same kinds of problems together. We paid attention to balancing. We figured out why adding 3 to a -3 gets us to 0 (this is 5th or 6th grade level stuff!). We could explain WHY we added z, or WHY we subtracted 7, because we were trying to get the variable alone. It was brilliant! Now my afterschool kids, who are usually the lowest kids, are actually ahead of the rest of the class. Tutoring for the win!

2 Responses

  1. Michael

    I’m getting worried you’re going to hit the wall. You know, if you’re sick maybe a little down time is reasonable.

  2. Andrew

    It might be helpful if you start to think of everything as “combining” rather than “adding” or “subtracting”. Subtraction is the same as combining a positive number with a negative number. Maybe not important now, but think about subtracting a positive from a negative — easier conceptually to think of combining two negatives. The rules are also easy. Same sign – addition algorithm. Different signs – subtraction algorithm.

    Good luck!

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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