How To Fail A Math Course In 6 Easy Steps

Ok, I must confess the title of this post should be, “things to avoid to ace your math class!” but I purposely titled the post to grab your attention as what I’m going to talk about is important! Students can fail a math course for a variety of reasons however too many students sabotage their grade by not doing the basics in class.  I can tell you from years and years of teaching that most (if not all) teachers would totally agree with my list- it’s just common sense..  However, like most things in life, the simple things we need to do to take care of ourselves are often not the easiest things. Now before I get into my list I want to state right up front that students can do all the right thing in a class but have a poor teacher- this could result in failing a class.  Moreover a student can be in the wrong placement or learning environment- this could also cause a student to fail a course.  Nevertheless, from my experience when a student fails a math course one or more of the below factors were at play.  So join me in looking over the [...]

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Common Core Math Watch Special Report 1

How much do you know about the new common core curriculum standards?  Well if you don’t know that much you need to get informed ASAP because it is changing everything in education.  So in an effort to help you sort out CC (common core) I’m starting this series of posts on common core and its impact on higher level math mainly Pre-Algebra and above.  This series of articles will be a learning process for both of us as things are changing rapidly and much is yet to be determined about CC.  What is Common Core?  The basic definition of CC is a new set of curriculum standards (driven at the federal level) that is aimed at increasing the depth of knowledge about core concepts.  Why the change to new standards?  CC standards are in response to a perception (or fact – you choose) that American students are ill prepared for the new global economy. The designers claim the new standards will focus on fewer topics and go deeper into mastering core concepts.  However, the real essence of CC is a new approach to teaching (lesson plan, design and assessment)- this is where CC is a radical departure from traditional/classical math education. [...]

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Multiple Choice Math Questions The Best Place To Start

On multiple choice questions the best place to start is by looking at the answers.  Often times you can eliminate answers or pick up clues on how to select the correct answer by looking at your choices before reading the question.  Moreover, there may be times when you can use the multiple choice answers to get a question right even if you don’t know how to solve the problem (like the example below).  So when you see a multiple choice question stop and quickly scan the answers before you try to figure out the correct answer.   Below is an example of how you can use this tip to answer a question you don’t know how to do… Select the solution to the equation               Let’s assume you don’t know how to solve this equation.  You can still answer the question by checking each answer into the equation and see what number “balances” the equation making the left value = to the right value.  The number that balances the equation is the right solution…   Let’s try answer “b” by plugging in x=3           OK, x=3 is the correct solution [...]

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Make Sure Your Homeschooler Does Not Make This Common Mistake

Recently I was working with a student and once again saw one of the most common mistakes made in algebra.  Actually it’s a mistake that has its roots when a student’s learns about basic fractions and specifically how to reduce or simplify them.  The mistake is a misconception on how to cross cancel like numbers (or variables) in the numerator and denominator in order to reduce a fraction.  The best way for me to explain the mistake is to show you some examples.   Please be on the lookout for this error as it happens very frequently with algebra students.   Let’s reduce this fraction                           ** You can only cross-cancel like factors, i.e. numbers or variables that are being multiplied not  numbers or variables in sums/differences             Another example of the mistake                   ** You can only cross-cancel like factors, i.e. numbers or variables that are being multiplied not  numbers or variables in sums/differences Although you may think your child knows the above concepts well you still want to review this with them.  I can [...]

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Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 What’s The Difference?

After your homeschooler finishes Pre-Algebra they will be taking Algebra 1.  Most students will notice that Algebra 1 goes over many of the topics that they learned in Pre-Algebra.  As such there might be a perception that Algebra 1 is just a little harder repeat of Pre-Algebra. 

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What Calculator Does Your Homeschooler Really Need?

Last week I purchased a TI-84 Plus calculator for my son.  He is taking both Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics.  His AP Stats teacher said it was a requirement to have a TI-84 for the course.  So being a good parent I went ahead and purchased the TI-84 ($120) and took his TI-83 back into my inventory. 

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What Type Of Numbers Do We Use To Count Nothing?

One of the most basic abilities we have as humans is our ability to count.  We can visualize and see various number of objects in our physical world. 

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Make Your Homeschooler Show Work- Improve by 50%

One of the best things you can do for your homeschooler to become a better mathematician is to ensure they show their math work.  I will give you some examples(below) to illustrate my point but know this- if your child is showing little to no work in their practice they will not become proficient at math.  A BIG part of teaching a student math is getting them to master excellent problem solving habits.

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Negative of a Negative Number – Let’s Deal With The Confusion

A common misunderstanding of students when they start learning how to work with positive and negative numbers is dealing with the negative of a negative situation (see below for an example).  So along with the rules to add, subtract, multiply and divide positive and negative numbers students also must know how to interpret what the negative of a negative number means. As students get into algebra and beyond they will face the “negative of a negative” situation frequently so it’s critical we eliminate any confusion with this topic.

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Algebra 2 Factoring Skills- Does Your Homeschooler Have Them? Pop Quiz

One of the most important skills for high school level math is the ability to factor. Much of the factoring Algebra 1 and 2 students focus on is factoring polynomials. However there are many other non-polynomial expressions that we factor as well in algebra so it’s not only about polynomials like trinomials. By the time your child finishes Algebra 2 they should be able to handle a factoring problem like the one below.

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That Was Easy! An Easy Way to Add and Subtract Fractions

Oh yes the wonderful world of fractions!  Most students hate dealing with them but I have good news for those restless students!  I have a method that will make those “fraction haters” into crazed fraction loving math students!!  However my little secret method is only

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Polynomials -Understand The Little Things Before Mastering The Big Stuff

One of the biggest topics we study in algebra is polynomials.  Almost half of what your homeschooler will learn in algebra is focused on polynomials so it’s a good idea for us to really understand what one is.  I’m sure most of you out there have seen the word “polynomial” but do you know what one is? 

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The Best Book On Teaching I Ever Read! A MUST READ

Unless you have ever been a teacher you don’t realize how challenging it is.  It’s just like trying to explain what it’s like to be a parent with someone with no kids or explaining what combat is like to those that have never experienced it- unless you have done it you can’t truly grasp the experience.  Years ago when I started teaching I thought I knew what I was in for before my first day of school. 

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The Transitive Property And Why You Need To Know It

Mathematics is a language that is structured by many properties.  One property that students need to comprehend is the Transitive Property.  Before we go any further let’s review the actual property.

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