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Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

CASE STUDY: This 11th grader stopped binge eating because the math stress was gone

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Is your child consumed by math anxiety, even though they’re “doing everything right?”

These are some of my favorite students to work with, because I used to struggle with the exact same thing.

When this particular Algebra II/Trig student first came to me, she was making decent grades – Cs, Bs and low As – but at enormous psychic cost.

She would spend hours every night perfectionistically slaving over her math homework, but still feel completely unclear about the material and consumed by math anxiety.

Math felt like a collection of shards of broken glass that she was putting massive energy into “keeping together,” but they never actually fit together or added up to a cohesive whole.

How did she shift from perfectionism to mastery?

Let’s break it down!

1. When this student started working with me, one of the things that really stressed her out was her formulas sheet.

A page covered in things she hadn’t yet learned, that she would eventually have to memorize, many involving symbols or terms she’d never heard of yet, all crammed onto one scary page.

OF COURSE this freaked her out!

So we set the formulas sheet aside.

2. And instead, we built the formulas sheet from scratch – one formula at a time.

First, we started with the simplest, most basic formula, and built it from scratch using foundational concepts that this student already knew, like the Pythagorean formula.

And we’d make it super visual, drawing diagrams that explained why it worked.

Then she’d “teach it back to me” and build it from scratch and draw the diagrams herself.

Then the next session, we’d do the same thing again.

And again.

And again.

Until each formula was totally internalized, and she could build almost the entire formulas sheet from scratch, all by herself.

3. This created massive self-trust.

Not only did this student KNOW all the formulas, she knew WHY they worked, AND she could build them on her own.

Also, taking the time to do this so slowly, in the end, created massive speed.

This student became one of the fastest problem-solvers I’ve ever seen at this level …

BECAUSE she had taken the time to understand the fundamental concepts so meticulously.

The end result was that, without trying to be fast, this student breezed through the material, understanding at a deep conceptual level problems that many other students just experience as a random collection of rules or weird answers spit out by their TI-82.

Now this student experienced math as a cohesive whole, where she belonged, instead of a random collection of disconnected shards.

4. So, how did this play out in her classroom?

As a result of our work, this student’s grades hit the roof.

She was awarded the “most improved student” award by her teacher – in front of her whole school.

She was so much less stressed that she stopped binge eating…
…just because the math anxiety was gone.

And she applied for and won a prestigious internship at a European research-based skin care company in Georgetown, DC – being chosen over COLLEGE STUDENTS!!!

(This is an awesome example of how when math is no longer an obstacle, students can really bring their dreams and visions out into the world.)

Do you have a child who is struggling with this kind of math anxiety?

Maybe they’re actually getting good grades, but not really understanding how the pieces fit together.

Or maybe their grades have started to suffer.

Either way, I’d love to connect with you get clear on whether or not my work would be a fit for your child.

Just fill out this application to get started: fill out your application here

I am so excited to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related Articles:
Case Study: A 5th grader goes from believing “Math Doesn’t Like Me” to singing and dancing about math while wearing a purple tutu
Afraid Your Math Teacher Will Judge You?
Case Study: A 10th grader goes from feeling like math is a foreign language to becoming the most called-upon student in her class
The Treachery of Invisible Math Anxiety

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

How to raise a math-confident daughter (or son) (1)

Friday, January 15th, 2016

smaller high five

That’s me speaking at AAUW’s Tech Savvy event for 6th-9th grade girls and their parents!

Is your child plagued by math anxiety, even though they’re already busting their butt?

Or do you really want to support your child to be truly math-confident, but don’t know how to connect with them about math?

I recently got to speak to parents about “How to Raise a Math-Confident Daughter (or Son)”, and the response was so phenomenal that I wanted to share the highlights with you!

This approach totally works whether you’re coming at it from a parenting perspective or applying it in your own classroom or community.

I’ve come to understand that being math-confident all comes down to developing and nurturing a Mastery Mindset.

1. The first piece of a mastery mindset is to have a Growth Mindset – knowing that math is a skill that everyone can nurture and develop with effort. (Carol Dweck has an awesome body of research about this.)

One of the ways I help my students develop a growth mindset is through using empathy to create an atmosphere of camaraderie and trust, so students feel really safe to talk about what they don’t understand.

I’ve come to understand that what keeps us from understanding math isn’t our intellect, but our emotions. And instead of ignoring our emotions, we can respect them and work with them as a tool to create mastery.

For example, there’s a student who came to me at the end of her Algebra 2 year. Math felt like a foreign language to her. By working with her emotions explicitly as part of our work, she ended up becoming the star of her pre-calculus class, nailing her oral final in front of her entire class, and enrolling in Calculus because math became something she loved.

An easy way that you can start to use empathy to develop a growth mindset is just to ask your child the very simple question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how does this feel?” This also helps students develop the super powerful meta-skill of self-assessing their own mastery.

Would you like your child to receive super-customized, one-on-one support in developing their own math mastery mindset – so math becomes something totally doable and enjoyable?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child. I’m excited to connect!

Related posts:
The secret to getting straight As in math (it’s not what you think)
“Now I feel connected to math”
The Secret Ingredients of True Math Mastery
Do you wish your kid could feel like Albert Einstein?
Does having a math tutor make you a “loser”?

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

“Now I feel connected to math” [video interview with my student Jessica]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I don’t normally post testimonials here on my blog – they have their own beautiful area over on my testimonials page – but I am just so excited to share this new video interview with my student, Jessica!

In the video, Jessica talks with me about what math was like before we started working together on Algebra 2 and pre-calculus – how she was really upset, didn’t like learning math, and how it was really, really bad.

And she also spoke from the heart about how now she feels inspired, connected, and genuinely LIKES math!!

Jessica is one of my favorite students of all time, and I’m just so thrilled to share her experience with all of you!

Thank you so much, Jessica, for sharing your experience with the world!

For those who’d rather read than watch, click here for the transcript:
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Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

An easy way to remember the difference between a line with zero slope and a line with no slope

Monday, October 8th, 2012

A lot of students get the concepts of “zero slope” and “no slope” confused when they’re first introduced.

Most students think something along the lines of, “They’re the same thing, right? Because zero equals nothing…..?????????? Wait… no, they’re totally different — BUT HOW DO I REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH?”

Here is a super easy way to remember the difference:

Zero slope means that the line is horizontal. Just like the line that makes the top of a “Z” is horizontal.

No slope means that the line is vertical. Just like the line that makes the beginning of a “N” is vertical.

(If you’re interested in a mathematical explanation to go with the visual reminder, check out Elizabeth Stapel of PurpleMath’s lesson on slope. The part about zero slope and no slope is towards the bottom of the page.)

Many of my students have used this tip with great success — so spread the word! No one needs to be confused about this anymore!

Do you wish someone would just explain math in a way that really makes sense to **you**? Do you yearn for the confidence that comes from really GETTING it?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Related posts:
A visual way to solve elapsed-time problems
Gallon Man to the Rescue!
An easy way to remember how logarithmic notation works
“Interesting,” not “Complicated,” – math mantras part 2

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

How to convert from standard form (Ax+By=C) to slope-intercept form (y=mx+b)

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Here are two examples worked out of how to convert from standard form (Ax+By=C) to slope-intercept form (y=mx+b).

This is something that you get asked to do a lot as you start to get more comfortable going back and forth between different equations of a line.

And another example, because it’s nice to see more than one example when you’re learning something new:

If what you see here resonates with how you like to learn, and you’re looking to work with someone one-on-one to really master math, then I invite you to apply for my super special one-on-one math tutoring programs.

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m excited to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
I cried myself to sleep over my math homework
How to multiply binomials using a box
Case study: a rising 8th grader masters her summer math packet
How to multiply binomials using FOIL

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

An Easy Way to Remember How Logarithmic Notation Works

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Here’s a way my students and I developed to help remember what goes where in logarithmic form.

Many of my students have found this really helps them remember logarithmic notation!!

2010-04-10_18222010-04-10_1828

While this memory device is no substitute for understanding conceptually how logarithms work, it is very useful to be able to remember how to “rearrange the furniture” to change an exponential equation into a logarithmic equation.

And speaking of logarithms, I also highly recommend Kate Nowak‘s post on how to introduce logarithms without freaking students out.

Maria Droujkova of Natural Math also has a great post on how you can use family trees to demonstrate how logarithms work.

Related Posts:
The Best Algebra Book in the World?
When in Doubt, Talk it Out

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

How to multiply binomials using a box!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Many people find this more visual and intuitive than FOILing.

I split the video into 8 brief parts. Each part features one practice problem, fully explained and demonstrated on the whiteboard.

If you, your family, or your friends would like to see me make an instructional video about a particular math topic or type of problem, leave a comment to nominate your math problem for its very own video!

And if you like the video, please feel free to click on the “heart” to show that you “heart” it. <3

#1 – Multiplying Binomials with the Box Method (alternative to FOILing) from Rebecca Zook on Vimeo.

Click on “more” for the other parts of the video — four more examples, extra practice problems for you to test your mastery of FOIL, and answers to the extra practice problems!

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Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

Algebra Tears

Friday, December 4th, 2009

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time one of my students broke down and cried during a tutoring session. I was working with a ninth grader who was struggling in her Algebra II class. She had a great teacher, but she’d gone to a “progressive” elementary school where she’d never learned to do long division—apparently the school’s philosophy was that students would just “figure it out.”

We were seated at an enormous wooden table in the beautiful Boston Public Library. Her math book was opened in front of us, and her enormous backpack rested on a nearby chair. I think we were working on completing the square, which challenges many students. We’d been working on it for several sessions, and my student became extremely frustrated.

Basically, she told me she didn’t want to go on, and didn’t want to do any more work. And then she started to cry. I started to panic. What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to “act professional”? Should we take a break? Weren’t her parents paying me a lot of money to have her do math? I couldn’t just sit here and let her NOT do math!

In my panic, I started to ask her a series of idiotic questions, and the conversation went something like this:
“What will happen if you don’t finish this homework assignment?”
“I won’t understand the material.”
“And then when you take the test, what will happen?”
“I won’t do well.”
“And then what kind of grade will you get?”
“I’ll probably fail.”
“And then what will happen?”
“I’ll probably have to take the class again.”
Wow, talk about encouraging my student to visualize failure! Then I said something even more totally idiotic like, “If you don’t want to repeat Algebra 2, then we need to work on completing the square right now.”

Things continued in this vein until it was time to walk down to the lobby of the library where her parents picked her up.

Afterwards, I was so confused about what had happened. I was afraid that I had totally blown it and that this student would probably never want to talk to me again. And obviously I wasn’t a good tutor for her if she cried on me during tutoring.

I pre-emptively called her Mom and explained that the session hadn’t gone so well and that the student had cried. The Mom actually told me that that was a good sign—that her daughter would only cry in front of someone who she really trusted!

In my next meeting with the student, I apologized and told her I was sorry that I had stressed her out. Paradoxically, from that session onward, my student’s attitude toward math totally changed.

It was almost like the breakdown set the stage for a breakthrough. After weeks of struggling with the completing the square, she found an awesome new way to approaching it using a drawing of a square (more on that later). Even though none of my previous explanations had clicked, this approach made immediate intuitive sense to her. And we spent another great year and a half working on math together.

Looking back on how I handled her crying in tutoring, I feel like it was one of my lowest points as a tutor. Obviously it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if we took a break, or even if my student ended up repeating the class.

If I could live that moment again, I would have handled it totally differently—asked my student if she wanted a hug, packed up, and taken her to Starbucks. I’m amazed that our relationship wasn’t ruined by my insensitive response to her algebra tears. And I’m grateful to my student, for forgiving me for my ineptness, having the guts to keep going after that session, and teaching me a huge lesson about how to handle breakdowns.

Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

Good Explanation Boxes for Different Learning Styles

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Have you ever looked at the explanation box in your math book and just felt more confused than you did before?

Words: “For any real numbers a and b, if a^2=b, then a is a square root of b.”

Huh? I can tease the definition apart if I slow my reading speed down to about one mile per hour. But usually things make sense to me a lot faster if I see an example.

Example: “Since 5^2 =25, 5 is a square root of 25.”

Phew… so much better!

What I like about Glencoe Mathematics Algebra 2 book is that it includes both kinds of explanations in the explanation box—Words, Example, and when appropriate, Symbols and/or a Model. I love how this maximizes the chances that students can see the kind of explanation that makes sense to their own brain!

For example, I was working with a student from a very progressive high school, but her Algebra 2 book only had verbal explanations, with no symbols or examples. We pulled out the Glencoe book and found the “explanation box” for the concept we were discussing, and it made SO much more sense to her than just the words did.

This book doesn’t go as far as to include examples for tactile or kinesthetic learners (like Math U See does) but it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

Disclaimer: The sequencing in this book has been confusing to many students, so it’s not perfect.

Related Posts: The Best Algebra Book In the World?
I am SO excited about Math U See!

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Posts Tagged as "algebra 2"

Case Study: Regaining Love of Math

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

A student came to me this past spring with an unusual proposition. She wanted tutoring because she felt that she’d lost her love of math and she wanted to regain it. (Also, she was already earning Bs in school, but she wanted to learn math without so much stress.) What a really cool reason to seek tutoring! Plus, I was excited to work with a student who was already intrinsically motivated.

Since every student is different, I wasn’t sure until we started working together what would help her regain her love of math. She was already very organized and would come to each session with a plan for what she wanted to discuss.

It quickly became apparent that she really just needed some time one-on-one to go over the things she had questions about. The way that her classroom teacher explained things wasn’t always the way that made the most intuitive sense to her. (This isn’t unusual, considering that every single human has a unique way of approaching their own learning).

Another thing that worked was introducing alternative ways of thinking about particular math concepts. This student was great at evaluating what options worked best for her. She’d explain which approaches made total sense and which ones really didn’t help her. She’d also use her synaesthesia to create her own mnemonic devices.

This student would tackle tough problems with gusto. Once, after she cracked a particularly challenging problem, I drew a star with shining rays next to her final answer to show how proud I was. We jokingly named it “The Star of Vanquishment”—vanquishing seemingly impossible problems! This became a running joke. We’d draw it when we felt like we needed inspiration to get through something unfamiliar, or to celebrate when we solved a tough problem.

My student’s school year ended later than any other schools in the area. I was concerned because before I’d committed to working with her, I’d made plans to be out of town for a music festival during her final exams. So she was one of the first students to test-drive my online tutoring technology with me.

During our final session online, she told me that her past three quiz grades had been an 100, an 103, and a 93—“but the 93 was the highest grade in the class on that quiz.” I was so proud of her!

Most importantly, it seemed from her confident and enthusiastic attitude that she had regained her love of math, or at least was well on her way. Overall, I think the “secret ingredient” here was just supporting her and personalizing her instruction in a relaxed and encouraging environment.

Related Posts: Case Study: Learning Geometry with a Spatial Disability
Case Study: Confused by Math Instruction In a Foreign Language