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    Joined: Jun 2011
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    I didn't read everything here but I may have a story that relates. Recently my dd10 took a unit pre- test on angles and lines. They gave it back to her with the exact same post test to compare to two and to see how much she learned. She came home a bit confused. The pre test asked her to draw a 90 degree angle. My DD drew a Right angle using Line Segments. Made the three points, labeled them A, B, and C and made the little right angle box inside the angle. She got the problem wrong because she didn't use arrows on her lines to represent lines.
    She said to me "but an angle is an angle even if it is made with line segments, right?" I emailed the teacher to let her know that DD was confused and the response was that since my DD showed profinciency on the post test she is not concerned about any misunderstanding.

    Now this woman is only a Math teacher. I have never had Math after highschools and am not "gifted" but I really don't believe our educators are educated. Either that or they simply don't care. Or maybe they don't have time to care. I don't know.

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    n my opinion, someone whose mathematical thinking is weak enough that they don't understand pre-algebra, algebra, and basic geometry ( 7th grade or 8th grade math) well enough to teach it when they have a textbook available to refer to, has no business professionally directing the mathematical development of children, period.

    I guess I haven't given this a great deal of in-depth thought. I agree that teachers even of early primary grades should have a strong foundation in basic math proficiency, such as pre-algebra, algebra, and basic geometry; that is actually going to come up. Graphing functions, not usually, unless we're talking about our kids. I can see the argument, and yet I guess I think I would rather teachers got really strong pedagogical instruction in good teaching, or perhaps stronger mentoring, than intensive testing and tutoring in higher-order math.

    This is again with the caveat that I actually do not know what basic high school level math is. I don't think algebra and geometry are tpyically taught in junior high to nonhonors track kids, are they?

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    Elementary school teachers in most states, receive almost no training in anything beyond arithmetic. They do receive extensive training in teaching reading and various approaches to it, but not math. Elementary teachers are also often quite afraid of higher level math and don't really understand the concepts beyond simple multiplication and division. While they may have not only passed high school math but at least one course in college level math, they have no training in how to teach that in the classroom.

    My son's third grade teacher who professed to be "excellent at math", insisted that it was okay to put a 0 as a denominator in a fraction, just as a placeholder. My son refused, it blew into a battle of wills.

    Ultramarine- in CA, all 8th graders are supposed to take Algebra I. It's not uncommon to see a class of 8th grade Geometry.

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    Val Offline
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    Originally Posted by sydness
    The pre test asked her to draw a 90 degree angle. My DD drew a Right angle using Line Segments. Made the three points, labeled them A, B, and C and made the little right angle box inside the angle. She got the problem wrong because she didn't use arrows on her lines to represent lines.

    They got her because the directions said "line" segments.

    This has happened to my son as well. He was marked wrong on a fill-in-the-blanks proof on a geometry test because he wrote "Side Angle Side" instead of "Side Angle Side Theorem." There were four of these instances, and he ended up with a C on an exam that he actually aced. They got him because the directions said "Identify the theorem or postulate that makes each statement true." This was interpreted as meaning that you had to write "theorem" or "postulate" as part of the answer.

    IMO, picayune stuff like this is actually a way of making math "accessible" to students who really aren't capable of getting through a classically taught course. They memorize factoids and regurgitate them on an exam, and the schools pretend that the kids are learning college-prep math. When you look at the material from this perspective, deducting points for arrowheads and the word "theorem" makes sense.

    Obviously, a proper geometry course wouldn't present fill-in-the-blank "proofs." It would make a statement and ask the kids to do an entire proof from scratch, and the main grading focus would be on grasp of concepts and the ability to apply them, rather than vocabulary. True, there's a place for memorizing definitions, but that should be a small, discrete part of a math test.

    Last edited by Val; 05/10/12 09:17 AM. Reason: Clarity
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    Now, I don't believe the word "line" was in the directions. I believe the directions said "Draw a right angle" but we had another thing that sounds more like what you are describing on the SAME day. She got eight points off on a test that mattered because she wrote the name of the person who she thought geussed clsest o the drawn angle, rather than circling his name. She wrote in under the problem where it said BONUS - describe why you chose your answer. So she didn't circle Tom, but she wrote Tom on the line and said that she chose Tom because Tom was the only one to guess 50 degrees and 50 degrees is an acute angle as obvious in the picture. The rest of the guesses were obtuse angles.

    So she got two bonus points for that answer getting her a 94 on that test. So in the same email as the arrow head complaint I mentioned that I was surprised to see that 8 points had been taken off for writing the answer o. The line rather than circling it. The response was that is she had done that on the nclb test it would be wrong. She needs the children to continue to learn to do well on those STUPID tests. I can't be sure, but the last state test they took proved my dd to ne very good I not the best test taker in the school! This stuff makes me so crazy!

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    If you haven't seen it yet, I would recommend reading Lockhart's Lament (pdf). It's very sad.

    If you wouldn't want a teacher who couldn't read at a high school level teaching your kid to read, why would you want a teacher who can't do algebra teaching your elementary student math?

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    Oh gosh sorry about all my thumb typing errors. I going to read the link.

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    Originally Posted by sydness
    Now this woman is only a Math teacher. I have never had Math after highschools and am not "gifted" but I really don't believe our educators are educated. Either that or they simply don't care. Or maybe they don't have time to care. I don't know.


    When I mentioned that my son's teacher only knew math through 7th grade...I meant more of her certification. I would bet she could do beyond that, but there was some terminology he was asking about that she didn't know. I think it is difficult too because frankly she has about 20+ other kids in there she is teaching by herself. I do want to say that I am a school social workers and work with teachers all day...and I give them much credit. Until you actually do it and see what it's like, it's hard to explain. While you will get the occasional teacher that really shouldn't be teaching...a majority of them work extremely hard and it's really difficult for them to take all that time for each student and each problem with just one person. I would hope that they went over that as a group. Unfortunately, state tests have really made things ridiculous. Teachers are having to teach very rigidly on some things because of those tests...anyhow. thanks for the comments!

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    Val Offline
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    Originally Posted by shellymos
    I do want to say that I am a school social workers and work with teachers all day...and I give them much credit. ... While you will get the occasional teacher that really shouldn't be teaching...a majority of them work extremely hard and it's really difficult for them to take all that time for each student and each problem with just one person. ... Unfortunately, state tests have really made things ridiculous. Teachers are having to teach very rigidly on some things because of those tests...anyhow. thanks for the comments!

    I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but at the same time, teachers as a group have the lowest GRE and SAT scores, and elementary ed. teachers get the lowest scores among teachers. it's important not to overlook that. It's possible that she really doesn't know the math.

    As for those tests, they're the product of the education system. They don't get dropped down from on high. Educators create them. So they have no one but themselves to blame.

    True, NCLB forces a lot of the problems in our public education system, but NCLB just made a bad system worse.

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    Originally Posted by Val
    As for those tests, they're the product of the education system. They don't get dropped down from on high. Educators create them. So they have no one but themselves to blame.

    True, NCLB forces a lot of the problems in our public education system, but NCLB just made a bad system worse.


    True, a select group of educators do make those tests...but that doesn't mean each educator has say in any of it...and doesn't represent what all educators think should be tested or the manner in which it should be done. Kind of like when you get survey results that say "90% of people......" and you say to yourself 'Funny, they never ask me about this because I would have gone the other way.' Lots of people never get a say...and typically the ones in there teaching the class each day are not out there making up the tests. Anyhow, I won't get into all the testing stuff. I mostly wanted to say that most teachers work very hard, and that it's not at all an easy job.

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