I am sure you have heard from your parents, grandparents, teachers, counselors and other advice-givers-at-least-twice-your-age, that we know what’s best for your future and everything you do now will affect you later. I am not going to go on a long rant about the philosophical life-lesson part of that concept, but I am going to explain my reasons for holding you to high standards and expecting that you learn everything that I teach you in our Algebra 2 class.
I can not predict what you will do after you leave Schaumburg High School and while you may have some idea now what you want to do, it is entirely possible that will change. I can, however, predict what you will need to know mathematically in the years that you will spend at SHS taking mathematics courses. Actually, it is not a prediction at all. The government and school board have set a list of required concepts - called standards or learning targets or objectives - and each course in high school has 9 months to teach you a portion of that list. The skills and concepts are in a specific order and each course is designed to prepare you for the next.
Think of it like this: Little league baseball prepares you to make the freshman baseball team, where you continue to perfect your skills so you are prepared for the JV team which intern prepares you for Varsity. If you are really talented and passionate about baseball, you may get the opportunity to play in college or even make it your career. Now see if you can follow this metaphor for learning mathematics. Elementary school mathematics taught you the basics - the arithmetic and number sense. You used those skills when learning Algebra 1 and applied some of those skills in Geometry where you learned the mathematics of logical, orderly argument and justification. This year you are working your algebra skills again to deepen your understanding. Why? To prepare you for upcoming classes: Trigonometry and Calculus.
The road ahead for you while at SHS is already laid out. You will take Trigonometry/PreCalculus next year where, like geometry you will exercise only some of your algebra skills, but then you will take Calculus. Whether you take AP calculus or non-AP calculus , you will need to not only have a little experience with algebra but you will need to be really good at it. More than 70% of every calculus problem is algebraic manipulation - in other words - you most likely will not find calculus difficult unless you are unprepared algebraically. That is my job - to prepare you algebraically and to create thinkers rather than robots. I know this not just because “I was your age once”, but because I have taught the next course and I work with the teachers everyday that teach the courses that you will take after you successfully complete this one. I actually know what is ahead for you because it is my job to know and to prepare you.
Imagine if the coach of the JV baseball team only practiced batting skills and never addressed running the bases or outfielding? Maybe that year his team did alright, winning just over half the games - like 60%, a ‘passing’ rating. How will this bode for the Varsity team next year when all those skills are necessary to make it to state? Are those players going to be prepared for success?
I understand that in every other math class you have been given a percent that represents an average of scores on assessments and that seems comfortable and maybe logical. Here is why I no longer average my student’s learning. For simplicity sake we will keep it to 5 learning standards, although I hope you can see how this is magnified with more standards.
Percent Accuracy on Test
Solving Linear Equations
Solving Quadratic Equations
The student depicted above would earn a 75%, a C - a passing grade - if the scores were averaged. At first this appears fair and reasonable, but look more carefully and think about this student’s future. If a teacher “passes” this student on to the next course because he has an average of a 75% and never addresses the deficit of solving quadratic equations, this student will not be prepared when that concept is called upon in subsequent courses. This student may struggle not only with the new concepts in the next course but also with re-learning the skills of previous courses that were not learned when taught.
I don’t aim to make life or school more difficult for my students. Nor do I expect this course to take precedence over another at all times. I merely want to prepare my students to be successful for the future that I can predict for them - the upcoming mathematics courses at SHS.
If you share the same vision, that is being successful in future classes, then one thing you can do is take the preparation and learning opportunities that I am providing seriously. I will not average your scores because it lessens the importance of the concepts that you are not excelling at and increases the weight of those that you found success on. I will not ignore that “one standard” that you got a “2” on, because that means that I am sending you on to another course unprepared. I will provide you a safe learning environment, many learning opportunities and endless opportunities to demonstrate that you have learned the concepts - the concepts that I know you’ll need to be successful in the near future.
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Your teacher - Ms Moran
STEM and Flower Learning Consultants