[Numeracy 359] Re: Numeracy and EFF

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Susan Jones SUJones at parkland.edu
Mon May 10 12:38:34 EDT 2010

Wish I could have made a video of the very frustrated student preparing for her final, which of course means integrating thing.

Find the Y intercept of:

y = SQRT(x + 4) - 5 (I'm not going to search out the radical) --- she is supposed to find the y int

So she added five to both sides...

y + 5 = SQRT 4

and then squared both sides

Y^2 + 10y + 25 = 4

When I asked her what the square root of four was, she knew it was two, but she said "But I was following the steps! That's not fair!"

She had just been complaining bitterly that if the bottom of the fractino said "square root of fifteen" you had to do something different to rationalize it than when it said "square root of five - square root of seven" ...

One key symptom of her issues is that she would use words and phrases like "take it out" or "cancel" instead of the operation being done. When I would show her the operations rationalizing a cube root at the bottom caused the predictable confusion -- the procedure isn't exactly the same! She had written down cube root 2 x cube root 2 = cube root 8, and I asked her about that and she didn't see the conflict; that 2 x 2 should be 4 *all the time.* No, the square root should disappear all the time. All of these things are their own inscrutable ceremonies that have nothing to do with each other. To further compound things, she does the otherwise intelligent strategy of filtering out what I say so that she attends to what's most important... except that that means that all the questions I ask about what 2 x 2 is are ignored as she listens desperately for "what to do."

That kind of thinking can be "caught..." but the other stuff has to be unlearned.

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Center for Academic Success
Parkland College
Champaign, IL 61821
sujones at parkland.edu

>>> Michael Gyori <tesolmichael at yahoo.com> 5/6/2010 7:15 PM >>>

Greetings everyone,

I'd like to share an interesting document (quite lengthy, but all the better because you don't need to ask where the beef is) put out by the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges last year. The links are at http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/college/abepds/wa_math_cf_2009.pdf and http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/college/abepds/wa_abe_math_continuum_2009.pdf.

Discussions continue on this list about how to make math "concrete", both in the sense of teaching it with reference to day-to-day life and also how to scaffold instruction so that studies of numbers can take on personal meaning. The document takes the math standard of Equipped for the Future (EFF) and effectively runs with it - no easy task!


Michael A. Gyori
Maui International Language School