Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Scared The Math Out Of Myself

I found out recently that will be teaching Math Models this year along with my other courses: 7th grade math, Pre-Algebra, Jr. High TAKS prep, Geometry, and Calculus. What can I say? There are only 2 math teachers for the Jr. High AND High school where I work and the other teacher has his share of classes too. It was just the way it was scheduled. There tends to not be a lot of flexibility in the schedule with only 2 math teachers teaching 6 grade levels. Anyhow.

I was preparing some activities for this new class. I have never taught it before and hadn't seen a book so I wasn't completely sure what it involved. I looked online at other school's descriptions of Math Models and it didn't seem too daunting. I decided to look at a textbook website to see which book I would be using. The only one there that I didn't know was called Texas Advanced Mathematical Concepts and the tiny picture to the left was all I could see.

I started to go through the chapters and I was reading topics such as these:

Relations and Functions
Composition of Functions
Graphing Linear Equations
Graphing Linear Inequalities

Those sounded all right, they are Algebra topics. I was surprised that it started out with these since some of the descriptions I had looked up seemed much easier. Then I dug deeper into the book and saw these topics:

Solving Systems of Equations in Three Variables
Determinants and Multiplicative Inverses of Matrices
Continuity and End Behavior
Linear and Angular Velocity

Whoa whoa whoa. Wait a minute! I was going to have to reteach myself some of this stuff and then try to teach it to my students?? Math Models is not an advanced class. It is taken BEFORE Algebra II to help prepare them for the TAKS test. These were advanced high school topics! (Just like title says! Although I didn't notice that until later.)

I got scared! It was going to be like Calculus all over again where I would spend hours after school doing the homework I assigned just to make sure I could do it. I just knew that my students were going to have a hard time with this and it was going to be like pulling teeth with no Novocaine to get them up to par on the Algebra parts just to get to some of these topics. All they had taken so far was Algebra I and Geometry. This just seemed to jump!

I walked down to the book room to see what math textbooks we had. Maybe I was looking at the wrong book. I didn't see the Texas Advanced Mathematical Concepts textbooks anywhere but I did see all the other levels of math that we teach. There was this one set of textbooks that I was not familiar with, Math Matters 3 as seen on the left. I looked at who it had been checked out to the previous year and it was a student I knew had taken Math Models. I looked through that book and it was MUCH simpler!

Some of the topics I will be teaching and I can handle with no difficultly:

Essential Algebra and Statistics
Geometry and Reasoning
Triangles, Quadrilaterals, and Other Polygons
Probability and Statistics


P.S. When I started to write this blog I was looking for a picture to go with that harder textbook. I found one on Amazon and it was bigger than the one on the textbook website. Big enough, in fact, to see that was I was looking at a Pre-Calculus textbook. No wonder!