Knowledge Base

Topic 1 | Topic 2 | Topic 3 | Topic 4 | Topic 5


Topic 1: Homework Helping

Question: I can't help my student.  We are both frustrated.  What can I do as a parent to help my child?
Answer: Click the link. 

Question: My student doesn't get the math.  I know how to do the math, but I learned it differently than my student is learning in school.  Is it ok to show them my way?
Answer:  If your student understands your path, and the "reason" of why your pathway is as it is, not just rules that were memorized, than yes.  Click the link. 

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Topic 2: Test Anxiety

Question: My student does all of their homework.  They tell me they understand, but why is it that they are not testing well?
Answer: Maybe it's anxiety. However, we can do something about anxiety.

Question:  What can my student do to reduce test anxiety?
Answer: Ever heard of "If you think you can, or cannot, you are right"?  Attitude about the problem (math/any subject) has a lot to do with the outcome of what you and I are trying to accomplish, for your student to learn.

Negative self-talk is a form of worry (cognitive) anxiety. This type of worrying can interfere with your test preparation and can keep you from concentrating on the test. Worrying can motivate you to study, but too much worrying may prevent you from studying at all.

Negative self-talk is defined as the negative statements you tell yourself before and during tests. Negative self-talk causes students to lose confidence and to give up on tests. Further, it can give you an inappropriate excuse for failing math and cause you to give up on learning math.

Students need to change their negative self-talk to positive self- talk without making unrealistic statements.

Positive self-statements can improve your studying and test preparation. During tests, positive self-talk can build confidence and decrease your test anxiety. These positive statements; as well as others, can help reduce your test anxiety and improve your grades. Some more examples of positive self statements are on the cassette tape How to Reduce Test Anxiety (Molting, 1986). Before the test, make up some positive statements to tell yourself.

The 12 Myths About Test Anxiety

  1. Students are born with test anxiety.
  2. Test anxiety is a mental illness.
  3. Test anxiety cannot be reduced.
  4. Any level of test anxiety is bad.
  5. All students who are not prepared have test anxiety.
  6. Students with test anxiety cannot learn math.
  7. Students who are well prepared will not have test anxiety.
  8. Very intelligent students and students taking high-level courses, such as calculus, do not have test anxiety.
  9. Attending class and doing my homework should reduce all my test anxiety.
  10. Being told to relax during a test will make you relaxed.
  11. Doing nothing about test anxiety will make it go away.
  12. Reducing test anxiety will guarantee better grades. 


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Topic 3: Studying

Question: How do I help my student to study at home?
Answer: Here is a list of items your student can do at home.

1) Read the investigation for which they need help.  They can follow along online and practice.  If they have the answers (as I give them the answers to their homework problems) they can work backwards and figure out how to do the work.  They can draw pictures to represent the mathematics using a model.  This modeling can help them to make sense of the problem.  It's a simple solution to those wordy problems.

2) Problem Solving

What is the Given information? Use a highlighter to make the needed and given information to pop out at you.
Make a Goal:  What is the goal? What is the question asking me to find?
Make a Conjecture: What does your gut tell you?  Take a risk and make an educated guess, before your brain takes over and tries to solve it before you even start to show any work.  Over time, this math intuition (reasoning) will become better and better.
Make Plan: How are you going to solve this problem?  Will you subtract?  Will you multiply?  Will you use several operations to solve this problem?  Will you work backwards?  Will you look for a pattern?  Will you solve a simpler problem, but then do the same process with this complex problem?
Model the mathematics: Draw a picture. Make a chart. Graph the function, equation or ordered pairs. Use objects to represent the math and move around to see the mathematics. Use manipulatives.
Work: Show your thinking.  Show your work.  If you make mistakes, you can use those mistakes as learning opportunities to understand your own misconceptions.  You can also convince yourself and others that your solution is convincing and correct.
Explanation:  Justify and/or explain how and why you approached the problem as you did.  
Your Solution: Write in complete sentences.  Yes, I know this is a math class, but our standards of English extend to all classes, including math.  We must be able to convince others and ourselves that my solution is correct.  This also includes labeling answers.  
Verification: Can you verify that your answer is correct?  Is there a way to check your answer?  For example, if 5 + 3 is the same as 8, then 8 - 3 is 5.  

3) Use your notebook.  Besides using the investigation packets in class, take accurate and complete notes.  We use Cornell style notes towards the end of our investigation (lesson) to finalize our vocabulary, our "steps", our thinking.  Read them on a regular basis so you won't forget.

4) Use Note Cards.  Write the question on one side, and the solution path on the other side.  

5) Form study groups: Get together with a group of friends.  Remember learning is social.  If one can explain to others and convince them of how to do the mathematics, you learn your math and become more confident in what you do.  We have all this technology where you don't even have to leave home!  Skype, text, call each other, whatever it takes to help build your confidence.

6) Use the Internet:  We are transitioning in education from direct instruction to inquiry based instruction.  The internet is a resource, but be careful what you find.  So even though you might find a formula or "steps", make sure you are looking for that "why" and not just the "how".  You will still need to explain the meaning.  



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Topic 4: Procedural Math Skills

Question: My student struggles with the procedural skills to doing math, where can I go?
Answer:  We are trying to help your student understand the concept of the mathematics.  The procedural skills will follow through if your student understands the conceptual.  However, to help with the anxiety of the procedural skills, you can go to to get tutorials on what your student needs help with in math.

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