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Help for Jr. High Schoolers who Struggle with Math

Randy Chip Jr. High School Counselor

I am a School Counselor so I don't have teaching experience but I am in the classrooms discussing topics with our students. I've noticed that several 7th graders lack basic Math skills and I'd like to work with them during our 30 minute/day homeroom period. I was thinking about using the old standard multiplication flashcards but the students also need help with subtraction, division, and fractions also. Can anyone tell the best way to shore-up their skills that isn't too "elementary" and will keep their attention? Thanks.

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Middle School Math (including Alg I, Geo, and Alg II) from Tampa, FL

Building on that...

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Just introducing programming to your kids is huge. Sure, you'll get the kids who begin to live 24/7 with their calculators and quickly surpass you in ability to program. Those kids are a given. The kids that are the most amazing are the ones that don't seem to get it. When you plant a seed, you'll be amazed at what grows later on in life.

I had a girl in my 8th grade class who seemed to have no interest at all in programming. She went through the motions, but her apathy was only overshadowed by her general disdain for the work I asked her to do. A few years later she called me and asked if I would help her pass AP Stats. While we were working together, she pulled out her calc and started thumbing through her programs. Some of her programs were really impressive (well beyond what we did in 8th grade) and I asked her who taught her to write programs. She looked at me like I had two heads and said, "You did." I said, no, who taught you this level of programming and she replied with the same answer. Nobody else had ever shown her how to program and she couldn't have cared less about it when she was in my class. Yet, somehow, she was able to pull from what she got and build on it a few years later. Now, I don't mean this as a slam against her, but I guarantee that if she was utilizing programming in high school, many (if not most) of my ex students were and are doing it as well.

One final note to put a smile on your face: When we finish our Matrices unit in 8th grade Algebra II, we will always spend a couple of days on how matrices are used in encryption. We will then write a program that takes a message in text form, translates it into numeric code, multiplies it by an encryption matrix and spits out a list of numbers. We also write the sister program to take that list of numbers and translate it back into words. A couple of years ago, one of my ex students was talking about how the programs that we wrote were the key means of communication at his high school. Even students who didn't go to my school for middle school had a copy of the two programs. They were passing notes in class that had been run through the encryption program so that the teachers wouldn't be able to read them. What I found the most funny was that he asked a girl to prom with an encrypted note and she accepted...also in code.


Former Classroom Mathematics Teacher and Math Coach

The other end of the programming spectrum

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Smiling -- really big. :)

Okay, this is not going to help Randy and his struggling students, but it is a programming story involving a struggling student that I have to share. It may be the only time that I laughed aloud uncontrollably at a student response.

I'll call the young man J for our purposes. In general, J was not a fan of school -- and he definitely was not a fan of math. One day, I instructed the students to run one of their programs for something we were doing. J, who normally did not make a peep without significant prodding, made a loud growl/grunt/moan of a sound. I had to ask what had happened. He called me back to see his calculator screen. It turns out he had not entered any programs for himself the entire year. He had managed to get a friend of his to do it for him. As it turned out, anytime that J started a program, his calculator displayed a screen with the message, "J is a dumb-[expletive deleted]" and J had finally reached his breaking point. Needless to say, he at least learned how to delete that command from his programs after that day.

Seriously, Tom, if your kids are writing and running programs to create encrypted messages, you really need to touch base with Doug Smeltz. Are you on facebook? If yes, I can arrange a cyber meeting between the two of you.


Middle School Math (including Alg I, Geo, and Alg II) from Tampa, FL

Doug Smeltz

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That's really funny. I'm surprised some of my entrepreneurial students haven't started doing that. I have some students who sell their programs for $1 each (simplifying radicals, quadratic formula, etc). Programs that they created outside of class that help in checking homework and such. I'm surprised that they haven't created start up screens like that for those that they sell to. Too funny.

I think I've met Doug. When I attended MELT at App State, they mentioned Doug to me. I think I finally met him at the Daytona Regional when I presented there. He has a series of Algebra practice programs, right? I think I have some of them. He's the one who taught me the value of archiving subroutines.

I would love to dialogue with him and I would also love to get back involved in T3. Those were fun conferences with very appreciative attendees.


P.S. Yes, I'm on Facebook.

Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

The problem with most Grade

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The problem with most Grade 7, 8 and 9 students is that they don't know their basic Math facts - it is getting worse since the calculator was introduced.

If you go to www.123math.ca, you can down the Free Addition Program, that has 270 pages of instructions for the teacher, students and parents, over 90 lessons, 28 audio files and flash card designs for the different set of facts.

You can also download the programs for Multiplication, Division and Subtraction.

I taught 7,8 and 9 classes a lot and started with teaching mastery of the multliplication tables - There job was to master the multiplication facts in their grade or they don't move on.

If you would like to email me at ask@photographybyken.ca , I would certainly discuss with you the Multiplication Program.

There are pre audio tests and post audio tests that can identify what multiplication facts they they know and dont know and charts to help them record all of the information.

The program has been used lots and really works. A mother used the program to teach her Grade 3 students (who was either last or 2nd last in her class for math) the program. She started in March, completed the 4 operations by August, and at the beginning of the Grade 4 term was in the top 3 of her class.

The only prerequisite is that the students want to master their basic facts

In the world the parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting so

Some Mathmatic Information

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I feel that I was teaching basic mathematics, but in a completely wattles way. I was allowing the Everyday Math schedule to rescue the order and the style in which I educated math. The math enrichment teacher was previously a regular elementary classroom teacher. The mathematics solution problem mostly occur in the 7, 8 and 9 students is that they don't know their nodal math certainty. And also for help you can download math application like division, multiplication or more.

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