Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sign of the Times: An Emotional Response

As we started back into the year, I assigned each of my Algebra I Honors students a topic to review with the class.  They chose from associative and commutative properties, inverses, identity, distributive, and the rules for conducting operations on real numbers.  One of my new students presented the rules for assigning the sign when multiplying and dividing numbers.  
She showed us this method for remembering the sign, and attributed it to "the best math teacher ever!" (not me, her 8th grade teacher from her district middle school. BTW, I sent the teacher an e-mail that night letting her know her praises were being sung in my room earlier in the day.) I made the graphic above based on my student's drawing and explanation.

Although I'm not a huge fan of gimmicks for remembering, nor do I use the word "hate" as a rule, I love this graphic, and this method.  I have some students who struggle to retain content.  I showed this graphic and now they own it.  For good.  "You love to hate.  You're a hater.  That's negative. Don't be a hater."

Interesting idea.  Thoughts?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Commas Have Names... use them.

 Large numbers can be hard for students to read.  They stumble with the place value names, and can be intimidated by the large number of columns. I reassure them that the numbers are easy to read if you know the names of the commas.  Each comma has its own name based on position. The name doesn't change, so you only need to know how to read numbers into their hundreds if you know the names of the commas.  
The first two commas you'll see in a number are named "thousand"  and "million", followed by "billion" and "trillion", etc... 

This approach always makes sense to my students.  They don't see large numbers that often, and feel in command when they can easily read:
forty-two "million"  three hundred forty-two "thousand" seven hundred eighty-three

Give it a try.  See what how it goes.