Monday, October 1, 2007

It's an epidemic!

So we just got done with a unit on operations with decimals, specifically adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals. Not much harder than doing that with whole numbers, you just have to pay attention to where the decimal goes.

OMG. I graded these tests and it was like they had never multiplied in their lives. 8x4 is 36, 9x7 is 82, or my favorite, 1+3=3 and 16-9=5. Sweet Jesus. So I'm reverting back to treating them like 3rd graders and we are going to have timed tests until they can get better at it. They aren't dumb, they are lazy and rush through their work. I told them, I can't be there to hold your hand and be like "Oh wait, you forgot to carry your 2!", you are teenagers now. You either will do it and do well, or you are going to fail this class. *silence, random cricket chirp* So I gave them times tables 1-12 and told them they better get very familiar with it. Little do they know that they will be taking a timed test on it tomorrow. 20 questions, 2 minutes. It'll be practice for the REAL test on Thursday. They can see what they need to work on. If they miss any, they'll take it again until they get it right.

I had one A out of all classes, a few B's, a good amount of C's, but I'd say 70% of my students failed that test. I'm going to have TONS of kids in tutoring on Wednesday, because I told them if they didn't show up they can't retake the test. And if some of them don't retake the test, they will fail for the 6 weeks. Explain that to your parents.

I just don't understand how 7th graders can lack the brain capacity to do simple multiplication, or that they still have to count on their hands, or that they can't see that when they get 5,023 for an answer and they were multiplying 0.4 x 2.5 that their answer doesn't fit the problem. How do you teach common sense to 12 and 13 year olds? We all know they lack it in life! My class periods just aren't long enough.. I would love to work on test taking skills, or how to check your work, or how to check for reasonableness. My gosh. I can barely get through a lesson in 45 minutes, let alone get anything extra squeezed in there.

I feel a bit better, but the rest of this week is going to be a beating. No time to stay on decimals and now we are moving on to fractions... shoot me.

Oh yeah, and the school caught on fire AGAIN last week. Any bets on when it will happen again?! Is it Christmas Break yet?!


IB a Math Teacher said...

So it is your students that are coming to me for ninth grade!

I'm teaching fractals now in order to given them an intuitive understanding of fractions. Not only can they not multiply the big numbers (anything over 5), they can't find 1/4 of 8, or understand that if the area of a triangle is 12, then 1/2 of the area is 6.

Chance said...

Fascinating stuff. I wish you blogged more often. I'd love to get a good sense of how you deal with such cluelessness day by day.

wicky said...

It's an international epidemic!

I teach MS math overseas and found your blog through some random blog-browsing path... but i'm glad to hear i'm not alone in my frustrations...

why can't we memorize our multiplication tables?
really. seriously. it's ridiculous.

but hey, when i can pull out my cell phone and use the calculator, why bother with mental math or facts, huh?

the anonymous teacher said...

1+3=3?! Holy heck!! Even I know that's not possible!! I've been trying to figure out how to teach freshmen common sense...and decided it's like trying to teach my dogs not to bark at squirrels. If you figure it out, let me know!!