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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Made for Math Monday * Foldable for introducing matrices

I don't think this is a very difficult topic for most students, but I do occasionally have a couple who struggle and could use a little more time working on the basics of matrices, so I made a foldable to keep most of the class busy while those students got the time they needed to process and absorb the material.

First, take a 8.5 x 11 sheet of copy paper and place it in the landscape position (wider than tall).  Fold in about 1-1.5 inches on both sides.  Next, while the sides are folded in, fold the entire paper in half both ways (lengthwise and width-wise)  I found the template for this foldable a while ago and just hadn't before used it.  Now that I have use it, I'm trying to figure out where else I can use it! (funny thing is I didn't even realize it was for matrices until I wrote the blog posting).

Here are 2 versions of the front of the foldable I did.  I like that the foldable has 4 pages within, each one having a little pocket to hold something

The RED CLOCK thing I did was a mnemonic I did to try and help the students remember that in defining the dimension of a matrix that it does ROWS and then COLUMNS

I told the students to make the time a number that meant something to them.  We just started a new trimester and I only know about 25-30% of the students from last trimester.  This gives me a way of connecting with a new student and the students a way of personalizing the foldable.

Next, here are pages 1-2.  I would like to point out that I had students label each part as one would label the elements of a matrix (a (sub) 11, a (sub) 21, etc.

 As we did the foldable I didn't give any instruction on how to perform any of the operations.  We put the foldables aside and did examples of adding, subtracting and multiplying by a scalar.

For homework they were to write instructions on the pages a (sub) 12 [adding matrices] a (sub) 13 [subtracting matrices] and a (sub) 14 [multiplication by a scalar] as well as make up 4 addition, 4 subtraction and 4 multiplication by a scalar problems - on half-index cards, which fit wonderfully in the pockets.  Students will quiz their partners as I check the assignment on Monday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm just not a very good test taker

I must hear these words at least 3-4 times I give a test. (I'm just not a good test taker).

I've come to realize that this doesn't actually mean what the student is trying to say.

After hearing this from a number of students, I peeked into their other grades and found that many of these same students were doing quite well in other subjects but struggled in math.  Upon asking them about their test-taking skills in these other areas the overwhelming response was that those other tests are easier.  Yet I have students who will still say that they are poor test takers even on assessments with very high class averages.

I'm convinced the "I'm not a good test-taker" comment is more a cry for help from students who are struggling but who lack the skills necessary to improve their scores alone.

Essential skills for studying in math

  • you must know what material will be assessed
  • you should know what kinds of questions your teacher will likely ask (multiple choice, constructed response, etc)
  • you should identify your own weaknesses and focus your study there
  • you should NOT wait until just before the test
What better students will frequently do in addition:

  • make up practice questions
    • even if you just take a problem worked out in class and just change 1-2 numbers and work that out
  • find another student in that class and discuss the examples
    • better yet, challenge each other with the additional examples you've made
  • Seek out assistance _online, IRL, etc...

Any other strategies you can suggest?