Wednesday, January 14, 2015

algebra regents--teaching to the test

So Chana finished learning algebra.  We used math TV which I got by posting on various homeschool groups that I wanted free algebra programs, and people suggested different ones, and Chana and I finally settled on liking this one.  I liked that it organized the material in a way that what came next built on what came previously.  I liked that it gave examples.  I liked that every example had a video answer to show how to do it if we got stuck.  Mostly I would teach Chana how to do it (either using the first example of its kind and showing her, or using a whiteboard, or using another site like purplemath or math is fun). Chana would do the problems and check them by looking at the very end of the video.

Now we are done.  Would I say Chana "knows" algebra?  Eh.  I think some of it she internalized and can do (like factoring quadratics.  I think she'll be able to do that for the rest of her life).  But definitely some things would need some more review.

So it is January now.  The Algebra Regents (common core) are in June.  So we have over 5 months for her to review, to get a little more fluent in the problems, and to learn how to take tests.

To that end, I spoke to the algebra teacher at the school I work for and he told me to get the topical review booklet which has 5 tests to practice.

What I have discovered is

1) Knowing algebra is not the same as knowing what is on common core.   There are things like quartiles, box and whisker plots, and all sorts of things that are not algebra.

2) Knowing algebra is not the same thing as knowing how to decode the language of the regents.  Chana often has no idea what the questions are asking.  I say to her, "You know how to do this."  And she says, "I have no idea what this means!"

So we are hacking through.  At each problem, I have to stop to actually teach her something new, or I have to walk her through what it means.  Hopefully this will become more natural as she goes through more problems.

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