Algebra really is cool.
Or is that algebra is really cool. Unfortunately the way we teach it makes it seem hard, and confusing and stupid. Here you see algebra teaching the boys math.
This is often where a student will receive their first devastating failing grade: their first “F” and from here many students see a cascade effect where suddenly ALL the grades begin to suffer. Let us endeavor to avoid this.
As I traveled around the United States I found this to be a recurring theme, one of many. People often times women, but not always, would come up to me after a seminar or class or during a break and tell me that could point to the beginning of the end of their good grades or sometimes their academic career. That "F" in algebra, for me it didn't come until I hit calculus.
When students come to me for help, often times I find we need to back up. If the student can't add and subtract numbers without the aide of their fingers, cannot answer times tables drills quickly and easily and/or have basic misconceptions about fractions...these must be addressed along with the algebra. Happily we can do all of this simultaneously, since math is a language we can use it to teach the all basic operations: addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division.
Further the use of manipulatives can completely eviscerate some misconceptions about math instantly.
Combining like terms
for example becomes completely obvious as does factoring trinomials and solving equations using "hero zero" and "no fun get back to one". Click the problem solving tab for a video about this.
This is my favorite subject to teach by far, because it can make the biggest difference, fastest. Once the student understands the concepts a test is easy because there only so many variations on the theme that can be asked. And because they now have cut it up into such tiny segments in an effort to make it understandable tests are often very narrow in scope indeed so ace-ing them becomes child's play. What ends up happening when it is cut up into such tiny segments is the exact opposite of understanding: math becomes a “meaningless dance” because the segments are never put back together to form a cohesive whole. Often times I hear “just let me memorize how to do it so I can take the test” (and then forget it). When I get them to understand the concepts and visualize what they are doing... “F” to “A” is as natural as day following night.
It would be nice to avoid the problems in the first place.
completing the square
should build confidence and make math fun and easy. What happens in classrooms across the country is the exact opposite.
Go to my BLOG and you will see that I like to use algebra
to teach counting, addition and simple multiplication and division concepts. My blog has lots of posts now showing how tis mathod makes math easy, IF it's presented correctly. Check out the post called 4 year old math enrichment. The blog is chock full of info you can use to instantly help you understand key concepts and erase common misconceptions.
Go here to see Math Enrichment in action, where little kids do algebra and think nothing of it.
You can also go
HERE, to a page I built
for a brief look at how to use it to teach basics like counting, adding, multiplication and more. Dig around a little and check out Youtube I have lots of videos there now that show how to cross teach and compound teach many subjects at once through algebra.
"Math For Students dot com" is a website that offers
help with math
and algebra in the traditional way, note how they consider this to be a topic for 6th thru 8th graders. It is 100% symbol based, never uses a manipulative and may be of great use for those who have kids this age who are being confronted with it for the first time in their lives. It also is typical of what I am talking about here on my website. Your child may; however, benefit from the extra explanations.
Lots of people ask how to do negative expressions like x2 - 3x + 2, or x2 - 9, or x2 - x - 6. These can all be found in the videos and screencasts on the advanced algebra page. You need a password to get in and passwords cost all of a buck. That's right $3. Or a buck a month if you buy a year pass.
HELP UNDERSTANDING THE QUADRATIC FORMULA.
Go HOME from this page.
Click here. Change your life.
I bet I can teach YOU to factor polynomials for three bucks. Spend a little time and very little money learning how easy it is. I teach you, you teach your children or students. All for $3. Struggling with factoring? You'll LOVE this! Teach yourself if you are a student. IT'S EZ!!
What about problems like x4 + 7x3 + 18x2 + 20x + 8 x3 + 6x2 + 11x + 6
Buy a password here and you get into the advanced algebra page and more. Right now that page has several hours of video and screencasts. Your password is good for at leaste a month. If you have specific questions about factoring specific problems contact me.
"The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra." ~Author Unknown