Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Dreaded Algebra

Funny how I dread teaching ALGEBRA, but as I was working through how to at least get a start on school while we wait to move in to the new house, and I'm still in NY and not in TX... Oh the ramblings and meanderings of my mind. What to do? What to do?, and who calls but Mike Austin, looking for the web guy, who is not in NY and his old phone number is not forwarding properly. Mike was so helpful, and one email later,  I have a few things headed our way that we can start on that will help us not fall too far behind.

I already had the No-nonsense Algebra here so I got it out and sat down with Little Miss Sunshine... Sweet Potato is doing summer schooling with it... we at least have moved one whole chapter! My sister found an error in the guide.  Lesson 4-6 it's problem 15 or 16 I have forgotten which one but 3 of us all kept coming up with one of the answers but the other one didn't match the answer key. My sister picked it apart for 45 minutes before declaring the key was wrong.  Her father in-law a long time math teacher said "Oh the stories I could tell you about wrong answers in the the answer key."  Oddly he didn't actually tell us any.

So we finally got into the fun part of algebra solving X & Y because we have 2 equations. I told Sweet Potato it was magic math... (insert flying rainbow unicorns here) we don't know the variables but we have enough information that we can *still* solve them.  It was fun.. I can't believe I just said algebra was fun, but there it is on my computer screen. This from the girl who never understood square roots.  So as Sweet Potato and I slog through algebra going at her pace of learning. I'm at that point where Little Miss Sunshine is starting.

What a difference, I wonder if she knows how amazing it is to be introduced to negative numbers and immediately grasp if you have -45 -3 you add them to be -48 or that mental gymnastics of -32+56 =24 even the tough ones 3-4+7-10 =-4 type didn't stump her.

She told me she hated math and algebra was hard... I told her not to be scared and discussed real life negative numbers. You want beef jerky but you didn't bring your money it costs 4$ I buy it for you you now owe me (-4$)  and you give me 5 dollars when we get home how much money do I need to give you back?  It seemed to do the trick... (Think it was the beef jerky example beef jerky always holds her attention.) Suddenly she just understood *boing* like that...  I kept giving her harder and harder problems and she just kept working her way through them.

Later as Dad and I were driving to the hardware store he said... "You are a good teacher. You praise her so much and encourage her that is the key." Thanks Dad! We had a good discussion on how hard it is for me to find things to encourage Sweet Potato on, and yet how important it is. Her stubbornness has been imprinted in her mind from the time of her birth, it kept her alive in the orphanage, yet now it causes her to not listen.  So often I have to let her figure it out, you can do it your way 15 times and bang your head against the problem your way and when you figure out you need help and are ready then and only then are you teachable, and ready to learn... Maybe some day that persistence will create some new invention. I certainly hope so, but for now I can look forward to a few weeks of light school, that she can choose to make hard or easy.

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