Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Groundhog Day in August

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Not the real Groundhog Day. Silly
people! Everybody knows the real Groundhog Day is Mabel's son's
birthday. Oh, and it's in February.

No, tomorrow is Groundhog Day in my classes. Like the Bill Murray
Groundhog Day. Everything repeats itself. That's because my mathies
didn't get the lesson. None of the 3 classes got it. 3 different classes,
3 different maths. It can't be me...can it?

One class can't add and subtract positive and negative numbers.
"Can we use a calculator?" Duh. That's why you can't do it now.
Too many homework assignments with the contraband calculator.
I told them I could teach a MONKEY to add and subtract on
a calculator. Sure, maybe it would have to be Coco, the gorilla,
but it could be done. This gosh-darn newfangled math! It is SOOO
confusing. Tomorrow we will do our lesson using Mr. Number
Line. It was good enough back in my day. And WE know how
to add and subtract, by cracky. We did it that way, and we
LIKED IT! OK, not really. We merely tolerated it, but we know
how to do it now.

Another class can't write algebraic expressions from words. Like:
Three less than the product of 5 and a number is 17. What? You
can't do it either? Prepare the handbaskets for immediate departure!
It would help if they knew that a product is not the answer you get
when you add. This class is actually my most promising. By the
end of the hour, with much help, the light bulb goes on over a few

The class de resistance is the one that can't solve equations. Don't
think I'm being hard on them. It is new to them. But it is a skill they
need at this grade level. I took it slow. They said the regular math
teacher had not gone over it yet. OK. Then she will tomorrow,
because I plan my classes according to the skill she is teaching
that day. She did mention that one class was a day behind. I gave
them the benefit of the doubt. I spent all hour working them on
the board, with part of the class volunteering to come up and give
it a try.

Here's my issue. From the beginning, I heard.

"We haven't done that."
"I can't do it."
"I don't get it."
"Still don't get it."
"What's that noise?"
"Is that a phone?"
"What's that beeping?"
"It's not me."
"It's in your folder."
"No it isn't."
"I still don't get it."
"Is that you beeping?"
"NO! It is coming from over there."
"Do we have to write down the answers to those on the board?"
"I didn't get them!"
"I still don't get it."

So Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had to give them a little lecture about five
minutes into class. Don't worry about the beeping. Since it's so
distracting, tomorrow I'll send you to the principal one at time
until we figure out who it is. It's too bad you don't get it, since
we will stay on this until you DO get it. That's what this class is
for. Did you think that you could throw up your hands and say
'I don't get it' and it would go away? Oh, no. You will have this
for the next five years. We can't just go on because you 'don't
get it.' In fact, we will do this very same worksheet again
Only YOU will do it, not me. And I will collect
this one with the
answers SOME of you have written down.

"But I won't be here tomorrow. I have band." From the only one
who really made and effort, and volunteered to work them out.

Don't worry. I'm sure we will still be on the same paper the day
after tomorrow, too. So you won't miss out on the chance to do
it again. We might spend most of the year on it, until you 'get it.'

Oh my goodness. They did not like that at all. And I am going to
bust them for fibbing, because the regular math teacher said she DID
go over it already. I am expecting much more effort tomorrow.

On Groundhog Day.

If you want to check your math skills, the algebraic expression for:
Three less than the product of 5 and a number is 17 is:
5n -3 = 17. And if you care to solve it, n = 4.

No charge for the 8th grade math lesson.
You're welcome.


Scribalist said...

Here is a link for you, HM, with perfect timing. It is from the blog for the Annals of Improbable Research and as a math teacher, it might make you laugh (or sob uncontrollably):


Chickadee said...

Oiye. Looks like you've got your work cut out for you.

My attention span is like that too with math...I think I freak out and just shut down..maybe some of them are doing that in their own annoying way.

Glad you're not letting them run away from this because you're right, it WILL follow them and only get bigger with time. I know.


Redneck Diva said...

I wish there was some way to teach kids practical uses for algebra. I was a freakin' straight A student from K through 9th grade and that was when the dreaded algebra entered my life and gave me my very first C. Then my first D. *gasp* My first F followed. My parents didn't save my first progress report and disciplinary slip like they saved my first lock of hair and first lost tooth. Nope. The whole family was crushed. I just couldn't get it!! Then suddenly when I was 20 and working in a hospital pharmacy I had to use an algebraic equation to figure a dosage and the burned-out math bulb of my Freshman year was suddenly lit. If there was just some way to make it all seem worthwhile...

Not that I'm excusing your DoNots - no! Not by any means! I'm just saying that sometimes practical application makes all the difference. And then sometime....well, sometimes kids are just a$$hats.

deadpanann said...

A few nights ago I dreamt I was teaching 7th and 8th grade math. I'm glad to see that turned out to be your nightmare!

Betty said...

If I had had a math teacher like you, I might have learned something. As it is, I'm math challenged, and in awe of anyone who can figure it all out.

Hillbilly Mom said...

I loved that link. That's the way parents and kids are these days. Too much touchy-feely, self-esteem-boosting, everyone's-a-winner gobbledegook, and not enough Tough Love!

Today, they listened, they watched the examples, and the lowest score was 80%. I suppose I made a point. I am dying to wait until one of them tells me a long, involved story, and then throw up my arms whining "I just don't get it."

Sweet Gummi Mary! Do you mean to tell me that one of these kids might be working in a pharmacy, distributing meds? And not in that 'I make meth in my garage and sell it to my friends' kind of way? I must really work harder.

Miss Ann,
Just last night, I had a naughty dream about one of my students. EEEEEEEE! That is not how I want to spend my unconscious hours. It was OH SO CREEPY.

I would enjoy teaching math if I had all kinds of kids. For example, a few who UNDERSTAND. I have the 15 lowest math students in 9th grade, which makes it quite challenging. I would do better with about 10, because they need INDIVIDUAL attention, which I can't give with 15. That would be 3 minutes per kid, after taking roll, and reading the required daily announcements, and without presenting a lesson.

I ain't nothin' special. I just want to go over it two or three different ways until they can understand it.

We all have our weaknesses. I, for instance, can not find my way out of a Dillards at the mall. I am directionally challenged.

Stewed Hamm said...

Woot! I knew the answer!
Of course, I've already tested out of 8th grade math, so I expected to pass.

Hillbilly Mom said...

You are OH SO SMART! You can be in my class if you don't hit me in the head with a box of tissues. I know they are sacred to you, so I think that offer is safe.

Stewed Hamm said...

Not that I wouldn't lack for ammunition around there... Your schools have enough Kleenex boxes to build a scale model of the Great Wall.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Heehee! I'd forgotton about those mass quantities of Kleenex that the other teachers have stockpiled. That's just ASKING for trouble!