Substitute’s Corner – Math

This is a new segment to my blog. After reading various posts and talking to both substitutes and teachers about concernns in the classroom – I thought I would share my experience. I hold two Master Degrees – after leaving the world of healthcare I embarked on education. It was the best move I have ever made (ok one of the best moves – THEE best was giving birth to my daughter). I have taught in Connectict, North Carolina and South Carolina – and have many experiences to share. One thing I must say, is that this role is clearly not about money as I could easy command 6 figures – Oh but the love of the classroom and my DAILY dose of (that just made my heart smile moments) overrides 6 figures ON ANY GIVEN DAY. With that said I hope you enjoy my content and nuggests of feel good moments… please share and ask all the questions your heart desires.

As a long term math substitute I have been asked on more than one occasion, “Why do I need to know why 5x + 6 = 30y?” Well the long answer is below – take what you need and leave the rest.

Do you love math? Or are numbers the bane of your existence? Whether you’re a fan of math or not, it’s an important subject to learn. Just think of all the things you couldn’t do without basic math! Math helps you buy food at the grocery story. It even helps you cook and divide it among your family members. Face it, folks. We need math!

Most of us start our mathematical journey learning the basics of addition. From there, we move on to subtraction. After we’ve mastered the pluses and the minuses, we advance to multiplication and division. Sooner or later, we all reach the point where we make the leap into more advanced math. What are we talking about? Algebra, of course!

Some people refer to algebra as the point at which letters get involved in math. Algebra is the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating those symbols. It forms the basis for advanced studies in many fields, including mathematics, science, engineering, medicine, and economics.

In its simplest form, algebra involves using equations to find the unknown. Real-life problems probably drove the development of algebra. The subject dates back over 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians.

Here’s an example. A wagon carries a load of hay bales. Suddenly, it hits a rut in the road. Six bales fall off! Luckily, ten bales are left.  How many bales of hay did the wagon have when before it hit the rut? You can use the algebraic expression “x – 6 = 10” to answer this question. In this equation, x represents the unknown (how many bales of hay were on the wagon at the start). Six is the number of hay bales that fell off, and ten is the numbers still on the wagon. By adding six to each side of the equation, you’ll find that x equals 16. So, the wagon had 16 hay bales before it hit the rut in the road.

Algebra gets much more complicated than that simple equation. This leaves many students WONDERing when, if ever, they’ll use algebra in real life. Does it have any use? If not, why do you have to learn it?

For starters, algebra is foundational for other classes. That means you’ll apply what you learn in algebra throughout school. Learning algebra helps to develop your critical thinking skills. That includes problem solving, logic, patterns, and reasoning. You need to know algebra for many professions, especially those in science and math. Not planning to go into those fields? You’ll probably still use algebra without even realizing it!

Consider these examples: It’s time to fill up your car’s gas tank. The price of gas per gallon is $3 and you only have $25 to spend. How much gas can you purchase? This can be answered by the algebraic equation, “3x = 25.” You must divide each side of the equation by 3 in order to isolate x. In this equation, x is equal to 25 divided by 3, which is 8.33 gallons of gas. If you need 10 gallons of gas, how much money do you need? When you solve that equation, you have algebra to thank!

Or how about this example? You would like to purchase Internet service for your home. Company A requires a setup fee of $10 and charges a monthly fee of $25. Company B does not charge a setup fee but charges $26 per month. Which company is less expensive for one year of service? We can find out by first calculating the total cost for Company A: x = $10 + $25*12 (months in a year), which comes to $310. The equation for Company B is x = $26*12, which totals $312. At first glance, it might have seemed like Company B would be cheaper, because they do not charge a setup fee, but algebra showed us differently!

There are many other examples of real-world uses of algebra, from comparing prices on similar products in a grocery store to figuring out what time you need to leave your house in order to meet a friend across town on time.

Need help with an expression click here.

The Walk of Shame

Teaching – what a wonderful profession, a teacher gets the privilege of shaping the “minds” of the future. What a powerful profession to have the ability to make or break a student’s mind and/or emotional welfare one grade at a time. I watched a group of first grade students fall apart, break down and begin to cry at the thought of being reprimanded for their behavior. This same scenario was true for a group of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. There is a classroom management technique known as “the walk of shame” in this writer’s opinion.

Reort Card
Fig. 1 Report Card

Teaching – what a wonderful profession, a teacher gets the privilege of shaping the “minds” of the future.  What a powerful profession to have the ability to make or break a student’s mind and/or emotional welfare one grade at a time.  I watched a group of first grade students fall apart,  break down and begin to cry at the thought of being reprimanded for their behavior.  This same scenario was true for a group of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  There is a classroom management technique known as “the walk of shame” in this writer’s opinion.

Members of a particular social media platform went ballistic  when the mother of a child beat him in the street for participating in criminal behavior and she posted it on social media;  there were approximately 167K comments for the child who had his hair cut off by his mother – posted to social media; yet another incident where the father beat his daughter for what seemed like an hour over inappropriate posting on a social media cite – it was re-posted more than the 10 Commandments and the beating was favorably noted.

Red Green Yellow Behavior Chart Shame Identifier
Fig. 2 Class Behavior Chart

Yet, did you know your elementary children are taking “the walk of shame”, it lives and breathes in most elementary school.  The “walk” goes a little like this – Ms. Ruler is teaching a class when she notices Corey is talking to Shaniqua again after either a verbal warning or “the look” is given to him.  Ms. Ruler interrupts the class and states loudly to Corey what is the rule about talking during class?  Corey’s face is changing from a playful 3rd grader to an face of sadness, as Ms. Ruler tells him to get up and move his ice-cream stick from the Green cup to the Yellow cup.   Corey has to take the “Walk of Shame” across the floor as everyone watches and move his ice-cream stick (that has always been associated with “sweet fun”) from the Green (I’m a good student) to Yellow – (Better watch out)!

This scenario depict a common method of a public shaming behavioral systems. The intention of shame-based behavior systems is to create a disincentive for the student and the rest of the class by making the offending behavior public.

Shame as a Behavioral Modifier

Open disgrace truth be told, disgracing of any sort – would best be named a discipline as opposed to a result. It is an extraneous and torment based procedure planned to offer uneasiness to the standard rule breaker. Likewise with any discipline, disgrace can have the transient impact of debilitating certain behavior. It will, be that as it may, have just a frail long haul sway on decreasing undesirable conduct and a negative long haul impact as far as achieving behavioral change. Also, utilizing disgrace to adjust behavior will have various potential undesirable outcomes.

Praise vs. Shame

  Cooperation

Level 3

Cooperates consistently with the other group members. Shares ideas and materials. Takes her/his turn talking. Listens to others and expects to be listened to. Performs his/her role in the group.
Level 2 Cooperates with the other group members. Usually takes her/his turn talking. Usually performs his/her role in the group

 

Level 1

 

Cooperates with the other group members. Usually takes her/his turn talking.

 

Level 0 Did not make the effort to be cooperative this day.

Chalk, K., & Bizo, L. A. (2004) suggested as an alternative to the walk of shame that, “We differentiate between positive and specific praise. Positive praise refers to an expression of positive affect or approval about behaviour. This could involve affirming a correct answer or giving ability or whole-person feedback. Specific praise expresses positive affect but also contextualizes behaviour. This involves precisely stating or describing the praised behaviour and possibly discussing the effort strategy or rule used by the pupil (Dweck, 2000). There is a growing body of work that shows that praise is under-utilized in the classroom and frequently delivered at rates unlikely to affect behaviour. Thompson (1997) argued that the potential of attributional messages in teachers’ praise is not being exploited to maximum effect, citing research by Blumenfeld, Hamilton, Bossert, Wessels, and Meece (1983) who found less than 1% of communications in the classroom consist of attributional feedback and that these are generally procedural, reactive and negative to children’s behaviour rather than providing information to the child about why their behaviour is or is not appropriate.

Did you know this was occurring with your children in grades K-6? Have you attended any Open House meetings in your district? If you do attend do you ask questions? Do you know what questions to ask that will affect change?

After reading this will you ask your children questions when they get home? Will you call the teacher, the principal or the Board of Education vs. waiting for them to tell you when the next group meeting will occur.

Get in involved, surely your child deserves more from you…

References

Chalk, K., & Bizo, L. A. (2004). Specific Praise Improves On‐task Behaviour and Numeracy Enjoyment: A study of year four pupils engaged in the numeracy hour. Educational Psychology in Practice, 20(4), 335-351.

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