kitchen table math, the sequel: on the beach

Monday, September 24, 2007

on the beach

Here's a picture of me studying algebra on the beach so I can remediate my child's ineffective mathematics instruction.

fun in the sun
on the beach
also on the beach


concernedCTparent said...

I SPY... a calculator!

Catherine Johnson said...

That's no calculator, honey.

That's a TI-something.

Catherine Johnson said...

It's a scientific calculator.

SteveH said...

That picture screams geek.

concernedCTparent said...

Oh, pardon me... I SPY a fancy schmancy scientific calculator.

TurbineGuy said...

What a hottie!

Anonymous said...

So, that's where you got that tan.

Btw, folks, Catherine's notebook is in ink. And NEAT.

Catherine Johnson said...

That picture screams geek.

I beg your pardon.

Catherine Johnson said...

I SPY a fancy schmancy scientific calculator.

that's better

Catherine Johnson said...

What a hottie!

Have I ever mentioned the fact that Rory is my favorite person at ktm?

Catherine Johnson said...

So, that's where you got that tan.

It's not a tan.

It's a burn.

Catherine Johnson said...

That picture screams geek.

Speaking of which, from time to time I REFLECT on the fact that I never see anyone else doing algebra on the beach, or on the Hudson line, or on the plane to Illinois....

Basically I never see anyone doing math, period.

Isn't that strange?

I mean, just a little strange?

Isn't math kind of fun?

Catherine Johnson said...

So then, thinking about math-on-the-beach (Ed: "That's a very Catherine thing to do") I was trying to figure out exactly how many US school children are currently receiving inadequate instruction in mathematics.

I figure that would be approximately all US students, since for the most part the teachers who are good at teaching math are (probably) clustered in middle school & above, and by the time they meet their students the students have so many gaps in knowledge that the best teacher's effectiveness is going to be undermined....

So basically, the question is:

a) how many k-12 US public school students in all
b) how many parents working in math-related fields who can teach math themselves
c) how many parents not in k-12 fields who are reteaching themselves k-12 math so they can reteach their kids at home?

The answer to item c) is 1, I'm pretty sure.

Catherine Johnson said...

I have 12 lessons left in Saxon Algebra 2.

(Which isn't really Algebra 2; the books are integrated.)

Catherine Johnson said...


I realize I have just implied that K-5 teachers are, as a group, not as good at teaching math as middle school & high school teachers.

That's rude!

Also, I don't actually know whether it's true! C. had some great math teaching K-5.

I withdraw my earlier observation.

Doug Sundseth said...

If your observation is not true, I'm willing to say that it's because of lousy middle-school and high-school math teachers. Math teachers in upper grades need to be better to teach the topics they are required to teach, because those topics are more difficult.

This is not to say that they are better teachers, of course (more's the pity).

Catherine Johnson said...

Math teachers in upper grades need to be better to teach the topics they are required to teach, because those topics are more difficult.

That's how I should have put it.

Although, I have to say, C. had a brand-new career-changing teacher for accelerated math in 5th grade who had been an accountant.

She was FANTASTIC, and she was brand new. (I bet she's better now, since she was new then.)

I should add that I don't know whether she was fantastic for all the kids (though I've heard good things from at least a couple of other parents).

Nevertheless, in our case, she was the FIRST person to teach Chris accelerated math, she took him into her class in FEBRUARY, she looked out for him, she communicated with me, she once wrote out the exact procedure for computing compound interest and sent it home to all the parents, she sought me out on a field trip to introduce herself and tell me she would be watching Chris for any signs he was having trouble but he was doing fine so far ----- the difference between our experience with her and our experience with the middle school can only be expressed on an inter-galactic scale, if that.

I would KILL to get her over to the middle school.

Catherine Johnson said...

AND.....(this should be a real post)....this was a case of real & serious collaboration with a parent.

She knew I had been working with him at home to accelerate him; she knew I was going to be continuing to do that; she probably assumed it was a good idea to do so ---

I should quickly put down the factoids for any newbies.

In spring 2005 Chris had failed 1/3 of his 4th grade math class.

The fraction part!

I began reteaching math, discovered fuzzy math, discovered the international standard was algebra in 8th grade.

A couple of other things happened, but the upshot was that 6 months later, in February 2006, Chris moved from Phase 3, or "regular track" math, to Phase 4, or accelerated math.

Six months.

Flunking to accelerated.

This teacher -- brand new to the district (I think she had 3 or 4 years experience elsewhere, though) -- knew exactly what the situation was, AND MADE IT WORK.

In this case, flunking to accelerating in 6 months, it was important to have the parent teaching and reteaching at home.

We knew it, the school knew it, everyone knew it.

It wasn't "outsourcing"; it was necessary and important.

The school worked with the family to make it happen.


Those were the days.