Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Algebra Is Such a Treat

Hey, have you ever had one of those months? February was one of those months... INFLUENZA made a nice showing at our house. Brandon and I were out for two weeks. And then our computer got it, too, so we had to kind of start over. I'm still not sure what I still have... But I finally was able to access the internet again.

As some of you know, I am teaching my son Freshman Algebra so he can move on to Geometry when he starts high school next year. As some of you know, particularly my friends I went to high school with, math and I... (how can I say this kindly?) hate each other. I know, I know, hate is such a strong word, and here on the blog of hope and positive feelings you would think I could try harder, but I try not to lie. If I ever go back to school, I would have to take, like Math91, or Basic Basic Math, or... Math for People Who Hate Math.
Not that I don't use it. I use subtraction (grocery budget), multiplication and division (n cents per ounce for 32 oz. is more or less expensive than y cents per oz. for 20 oz.?), and fractions (ever one and a half a recipe?).
But here I am, teaching my son Algebra, and it goes a little something like this:

I say, "Okay, let's do number two." I stare at the problem and read the teacher's notes and move to the board with the marker in hand, tongue hanging out in concentration. I begin to write a number.
Braeden interrupts me. "Is it 3x(1/7y)?"
I look at the book. Then I look at Braeden, brow furrowed. "Yes. How did you get that?"
Braeden sighs, gets up and takes the pen from me, and maps out the problem on the board like he's one of those caricature artists at the outdoor art fair.
I look at the book, than back at him. "Yup. Do problems 1-27, odd."

And then there's the running gag about the graphing calculator, which, by the way, I didn't know existed. We came to a chapter that introduced those, and we didn't have one. After consulting with my sophomore, it was agreed that we didn't need one, as they weren't used in the high school class, either. But a new electronic gadget has been waved before my son, and therefore he will begin the relentless hint-dropping until he has seen this wonder of the modern age for himself.
I got a unit self-test back, which covered several chapters, including questions asking for the use of a graphing calculator. Here are some of his answers.

8. a. Too bad I don't have a graphing calculator, but they look equivalent.
10. Man, I wish I had a graphing calculator...
14. a. Hmm... I can't seem to find my graphing calculator.
b. Oh, wait, I don't have one.

So, I correct his paper, chuckle and say, "Aww, you're so cute," and he scowls at me looking adorable.

But then he took the Unit Test. There was only one question concerning a graphing calculator, and I just didn't see it. Of course, it began, "Using a graphing calulator..."
This was his answer:

20. "If only, of only," the woodpecker sighs,
"The bark on the tree was as thick as the skies.
And then, maybe then, some time later,
I would get my own graphing calculator."

I about peed my pants.


wyomingerica said...

what a clever boy, it's great to see a post. Thanks so much for all you do.

Heather D. said...

Ugh, I hear you on the math hate thing.
There is a great set of math tutorials on youtube - look for 'Khan Academy' videos. Topics run from simple arithmetic to calculus, probability, trig, physics, to things that I don't even know what they are. :) I've watched several of them and found them very interesting and useful.

Shelli said...

Sounds like he takes after his mom in the poetry department! I laughed pretty hard. Way to go with the teaching, sounds like he is doing just fine!

Trev said...

A + B = C (Algebra + Braeden = Calculator) see, it makes perfect sense. Call it density, or destiny. Braeden NEEDS that calculator. He needs it to calculate how cool he is, since a normal calculator can't do that kind of math without over-heating!

good to see you post Sista Krista!

Jessica said...

Bright Kid! Funny. And you are a great mom.

Anonymous said...

You need to get this book "Bob Millers' Algebra for the Clueless" it is about 11.00, but I would have paid much more. It explains algebra in simple terms with well explained examples. It has helped me and my girls immensely, as well as several neighborhood kids I've tutored. good luck!