Pre-Algebra Classes

4th and 8th grade NAEP mathematics testing results show that the majority of US students have only “basic” not “proficient” skills in mathematics.  This means that many students in our classes are behind grade level standards.  In class, teachers feel  the squeeze about “covering all state standards,” and often do not spend enough time meeting the needs of the many students who are behind grade level expectations.  Summer time is a great time for students to get caught up to state standards and to enter the next grade level with more confidence about their mathematical skills  I have begun providing pre-algebra tutoring in addition to the English language arts lessons I already provide.  Please contact me about how you can get the first lesson free for a limited time.

I am a 17-year veteran, credentialed classroom teacher. I have taught all four core subject at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, but I have been a middle school teacher for the majority of my career. I have been a lead teacher and teacher trainer. I have a Masters in Education and am just completing a graduate course in mathematics instruction for grades five through eight.

The pre-algebra lessons are online and are via Skype or Google Hangouts and follow the Common Core and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics guidelines. The lessons use manipulatives, pictures, charts, and graphs that allow students to see and understand mathematics in a very concrete manner. Students learn through fun and challenging activities to derive the formulas we learned in school and see why they work. Then, they use the formulas and procedures to solve real world problems. I include mathematics games, which helps students improve their speed and fluency. There is quite a bit of emphasis on being able to make an estimation of the correct answer in order to see if their answer makes sense.

I also am very willing to work with a group of two or three students at the same level of mathematics in order to reduce the cost for parents. These lessons work very well in this manner. Students work together to puzzle out ideas as they try to solve the problem. There is a mix of group and individual work in such lessons, and the games are more fun in this manner.

You can find my contact information in the About the Author page:

https://satreadingwriting.wordpress.com/about/

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Public Education in America and the Common Core State Standards

I was invited by a fellow education blogger to comment on the three things that need to be done in the United States to improve public school education.  Here is my response.  I think it is important that parents who vote understand more about the Common Core Standards than they are hearing in the media hype.  You will find that not only do the teachers support the Common Core Standards, but so do prestigious teacher professional development organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  There is quite a bit of negative backlash against the Common Core Standards that is undeserved. 

The Common Core Standards were developed by the states, principals, and teacher professional organizations in response to the high stakes testing of the 1990s and state standards that were “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  In other words, teachers were required to teach too much in each year and did not have time to teach each standard with enough depth.  These standards were written in response to this flaw in order to allow teachers and students the time to learn deeply, using critical thinking, and applying what they learned to real life problems.  In the past, there was too much to teach, yet the high stakes testing encouraged moving too quickly, in order to “cover (not fully learn) the material.”

Here is my response to the blogger’s request:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the opportunity to comment!  I like your blog.  It looks very classy.

You have asked me to comment on the three greatest things our country could do in order to improve public education in the United States.  For myself, I find this very easy to answer:

1) Stay the course with the Common Core Standards.  Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions out there about the Common Core Standards.  These standards focus on critical thinking skills and learning all of the traditional curriculum (and more) in a manner that allows students to solve real life problems.  This is critical for US workers to stay competitive in a global workforce.  We have barely begun the process in this country, and a misinformation campaign is forcing some states to rethink whether they will use the Common Core Standards or not.  This is a mistake.

Also, there is a view that the Common Core Standards and high stakes testing are intertwined.  The high stakes testing was a part of the previous standards and No Child Left Behind legislation.  This does not have to be the case if teachers and parents raise their voices against high stakes testing. 

2) As teachers and schools have begun to retool to teach the Common Core Standards, there needs to be a moratorium on strong sanctions against schools that get poor scores in some areas in the next few years.  Teachers and students need time to adapt to the new standards.  In California in the 1990s, we adopted standards that were precursors to the Common Core Standards.  The state gave us a few years to retool in order to adapt to the new, more rigorous standards.

3) The students need time to adapt as well.  Most of the 4th and 8th grade students in the United States score the euphemistic score of “basic” in the international NAEP mathematics testing.  They should all be scoring “proficient.”  Teachers will need more training in order to adapt to the way of mathematics instruction that the Common Core Standards and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics suggest.  The old way of teaching formulas and procedures is only a portion of the picture.  Students understand the use of these formulas and procedures (and remember them) when they can derive the formulas themselves in interesting activities done with manipulatives and visuals to make mathematics concrete.  Then, students need to utilize these traditional formulas and procedures solving real life problems and have whole class discussions about their findings.  This makes mathematics a field of problem solving, which it truly is, rather than just a field of disparate numbers.  The legacy will be a generation of adults who can utilize mathematics seamlessly to solve real life problems, instead of generations of adults who state, “I never really understood mathematics,” as we have now. 

4) Teachers need time to get the professional development to teach these new standards in the research-based manner I have delineated above and to create lessons that are targeted and relevant for their students.

5) People need to understand that we are a country of immigrants.  Part of this professional development that teachers in most all areas of the country also need is in the area of teaching students in their classes who are English Language Learners.  Studies of teachers in America show that the majority do not feel they have the skill set in order to meet the demands of second language learners in their classrooms.

With all of these changes in place, the United States will begin making up the lost ground in education from the past decades.

Thanks again for providing me the forum with which to speak about how we can get out of the way of the Common Core Standards and support teachers and students in order to allow this change to occur.

Laurie Flood

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