kitchen table math, the sequel: test prep hell

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

test prep hell

So tomorrow Christopher has a big test on translations.

Last night Ed and I taught ourselves point symmetry; we also had Christopher do the practice lessons on reflection, translation, etc. in the NY State test prep book for 8th grade.

Naturally he refused to do the actual problems in the test prep book the way they were written, insisting that these weren't the problems Ms. K had taught, etc. So we'll be duking it out on that front tonight.

He did do most of the problems correctly, I think. I'll have to go through the pages and figure out what he can and can't do.

The problem last night was multi-tasking.

It's impossible to teach yourself point symmetry and monitor your child's progress in his test prep workbook and fight with him about doing the problem the way the book says to do it as opposed to doing the problem the way he thinks his teacher taught him to do it in class.

Christopher has ZERO idea, and I mean ZERO, of what point symmetry actually is. Ms. K. taught him a "formula," and he is rigidly insisting on sticking to it. He can't explain the "formula" to me; he can't even demonstrate it. I finally discovered (discovered! constructivist help with homework!) what it was after doing a few rotations on graph paper.

He doesn't get the bit about rotating the graph paper 90 degrees to see what the coordinates of a figure rotated 90 degrees would be.

Of course, if he forgets the formula on the test, or mixes it up -- which he did last night -- he has no way of figuring it out. Nor does he have any means of checking whether he's remembered it correctly.

Ed says not to try to teach him the graph rotation. He's got the procedure memorized, "he'll be taught this a zillion times again," etc.

Good grief.

The fact is, C. won't be taught point symmetry a zillion times again. He'll be taught it again once, one year from now, at which point he will have forgotten everything he "knows" about it.

Meanwhile I'm trying to figure out how many different variations on point rotation I need to cram into his head tonight. I'm positive he needs to be able to rotate a figure around the origin; I have no idea whether he needs to be able to rotate a figure around any old point at all -- or whether he needs to be able to construct one figure that has point symmetry "within itself," the way a face card has point symmetry within itself.

I told C. this morning, on his way out the door, to ask Ms. K. what kinds of point symmetry they're supposed to know.

He said, "When we ask her if something's going to be on the test, she says Maybe."

question: Why am I paying $20K/year property taxes for this?

I'm sure the test will be one big, huge problem requiring him to construct a figure, reflect it, slide-and-glide it, then rotate it around some random point in some random quadrant.

I better get cracking.


TurbineGuy said...

Twenty Grand!!! OMG... I hope your house is a mansion.

Catherine Johnson said...

My house is not a mansion.

Catherine Johnson said...

Not even close.

Catherine Johnson said...

We're completely overwhelmed by our taxes.

And we're responsible for making sure C. actually learns what's being "covered" at school, AND we're continually, ongoingly treated with condescension and, in some cases, open contempt by various school district entities.

Catherine Johnson said...

For 20K a year, I expect not to receive emails from my school board threatening to sue me if I use the Top Secret Board email list.