Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Can Haz Smert?

Warning: This post may cause post traumatic stress disorder. Plus, prolific profanity to follow because, math.

Boy-Child#1 has his first junior high pre-algebra benchmarks today.


They're akin to mid-terms, if it were the middle of the term. Which it isn't. So: benchmarks. I had a difficult time getting the point across that this test would cover everything from all of the chapters they've learned so far when I told him, ad nauseum, that this test would cover everything from all of the chapters they've learned so far. Exactly. I tried another tactic.

You know all of that homework you've done since school started? It's going to be on this test.

And... you see this bloody bruise on my forehead? It's from all of the beating against that brick wall.

I figured I'd help him study, being his first midterm benchmark and all. And this way I could instill some rather bitchen study habits. Plus? I don't like to grab my own boobs toot my own horn but I did get an "A" in algebra eventually in high school and also in community college [which Mr. Farklepants condescends by referring to it as my "little college" and I'm all, at least I went. Oh SNAP!] so I was all, no need to hire a professional! I can do this! Tutor schmooter.

I try to reiterate whenever possible that textbooks are marvelous tools for learning. If you know how to use them. The study plan I designed for Boy-Child#1 included various exercises selected from the chapter review section at the end of each chapter, odd numbered problems only. Because the answers are in the back of the book. Which I could use to correct the problems and see which areas he needed additional instruction.

He took a gander at the volume of math problems I assigned and after fighting back the tears and probably the urge to put a voodoo hex on me; he set about adding and subtracting integers, evaluating expressions, multiplying and dividing integers, [now is probably a good time to climb inside a bottle of Xanax if you feel a tingly sensation the onset of a panic attack] familiarizing himself with distributive properties, remembering lowest common denominators, multiplying fractions, converting fractions into decimals and vice versa. Etcetera. I'm super math talky.

Then we came across a problem where a mixed number had to be subtracted from another mixed number but the fraction part was smaller than the fraction it was to be subtracted from... And who just left? Bueller? Anyone? ...And my help was needed. Except I couldn't remember how to do it. So I consulted the oh-so-handy textbook of wisdom to find this:

When you subtract mixed numbers , compare their fraction parts. If you are subtracting a larger fraction from a smaller fraction, rename the mixed number before you subtract.

Huh. This book fancies me omniscient. I appreciate that the book informs us that we NEED to do that. I don't want to split hairs but it might be helpful to tell us HOW to do that. And show us with a detailed example. Otherwise I'm just going to rename the mixed number Ricky.

Then I threw the textbook across the room with some fuck you on my lips. And looked my son in the eye and told him to pray that question does not appear on the test. Because when I tutor my children, I'm thorough like that.

*photo by Dorothy Z.

50 comments:

MelADramatic Mommy said...

Me and math go together like peanut butter and olives. I'm going to have to look up half of what you just said. I remember being told we'd use algebra all the time in our adult lives. So far, I have not needed to know the FOIL method or the quadratic formula to do the laundry.

Stephan & Mary said...

If you cared to know how to rename a mixed number, I can tell you. If you were subtracting 6 2/3 from 10 1/3, you would need to rename 10 1/3. Well, each 1 is 3/3 right? So take a 1 from the 10 and put it with the 1/3, giving you 9 and 4/3 (3/3 plus 1/3). So the problem looks like 9 4/3 - 6 2/3 = 3 2/3. Hopefully, that is clearer than mud. It's been a while since I've done it OR explained it to anyone, especially via text and not speaking. There ARE math sites than have info and examples too. Btw, I don't know you or even how I stumbled onto your blog, but it cracks me up on a regular basis and keeps my perspective on the postive side.

calicobebop said...

*insert the sound of footsteps as I run away shrieking*

Gah! Math freaks me out! All I know how to do is compute how much of a discount I'm going to get in the shoe department. Because, that's the most important kind of math. IMHO.

Karen said...

You know, I absolutely love math. But I find it very strange that I'm not good at it. Neither can I remember anything that I've ever learned past multiplication and division.

O'Neal (The woman in charge around here) said...

Seriously, you should have put a disclaimer in the post title! I have not hyper ventilated at 7am since *I* was in high school! Wait, that WAS high school math, right??? And I WAS good in math, it just seems my brain has conveniently blocked out bits and pieces of my studies because of that very same kind of problem. Now I am calling my Dr to see if she can squeeze me into today for an acute attack of PTHSMS (Post Traumatic High School Math Syndrome)!!!

PS - You rock for being such a good (KICK ARSE) Mama for even getting your chaps to study like that!

Manic Mommy said...

Thanks for the warning. I'm breathing into a paper bag thinking about having to help with ALGEBRA. *shudders*

Nut Nut said...

Kudos to you for even trying!! I fear the math days at are ahead of me. I think I'll leave the math help to my husband and I'll stick with the English help.

And to the person who explained that math problem - none of that crazy talk, please. I stopped reading after "If you were subtract...." Eeek. The horror!

Katie said...

Pre-algebra and algebra textbooks are close to useless. My best friend, not a math whiz, expects her homeschooled children to read the lesson to get it. After a year of tears I told them to ignore the textbook lesson and I'd teach them instead. So much easier.

Karen said...

I've been googling mean, median and mode to help with 4th grade math. So, I cannot fathom helping in middle school math, and I liked math. It was just so long ago, ya know. And damned if they don't even add and subtract like we did. Sounds like I better get a good tutor on speed dial soon.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Since my personal parenting plan is to OFFER no assistance after 3rd grade (which is not the same as GIVING assistance when asked), I have not encountered this problem.

It is also helpful to have a next door neighbor/close friend who is a middle school math teacher. I'm just sayin'.

All Adither said...

When the real math starts, my husband going to have to do the tutoring.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Aren't kids able to stay after school for help anymore? This just isn't your problem, you math show-off you! (And, you should have e-mailed me - you need to "borrow" from the whole number to make the fraction bigger.)

Math textbooks are so useless, probably because they try to explain things. I have to translate them for my kids.

hulagirlatheart said...

When I arrived in Calculus my senior year of high school I knew I had reached my limits. I prayed that if I passed, as God is my witness, I would never do math again.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Hah!
yeah, what Stephan & Mary said.....

smalltownmom said...

My kids are way better at math than I ever was. Thank goodness.

Super B's Mom said...

Ok...I seriously just read the word "Math" and my brain went into automatic shut-down mode....


*shudder*

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I'm gonna try that. Renaming my fractions arbitrarily, that is.

I need to half this recipe. It calls for 3/4 of a cup of rice. That equates to about one Sophia. Perfect.

KEEP BELIEVING

MamaHenClucks said...

You lost me at the word Math. Gone. I don't do it. Can not do it, unless it's, you know, balance the check book math and even then, I'm not so good at it. Division of homework around here? The reading and writing is mine. Anything math related, have at it daddy-o.

mommy2twinkies-Deb said...

Too funny! I can't wait for tutoring. Right now I can't get them to count. "one, two, eight..."

I love the renaming perhaps that will work with other problems. Hmmmm.

Mrs. G. said...

I have done some of my best swearing during math sessions with my kids.

OHmommy said...

I have not sworn in front of my children. I also have not tutored them, yet. They have no homework in kindergarten.

I have a feeling that things might get a little un-classy around here when they start bring home algerbra.

barbra said...

Oh, Stephen & Mary already said it. We used to call it "borrowing," now they are calling it "renaming." Whatev.

Math textbooks aren't very useful if they just TELL about it. They have to SHOW it with a few example problems. That's what the teacher does in class, but c'mon, textbook, we parents need refreshers!

Jennifer H said...

I barely made it out of algebra alive (maybe with a B- if I was lucky...), so stop freaking me out, woman.

My son is in 4th grade, and the math homework help is already starting to look a little dicey. Lucky for me, there's a Mathnasium location not too far from here.

JoeinVegas said...

Hey, it's a benchmark. Doesn't that mean it would be better for him to get a low score on this one, then a really good score later in the year to show improvement?

Burgh Baby said...

It's good to see that those textbooks have not improved one bit. I made a fortune cheating, er, tutoring and I hope Alexis is able to do the same thing.

Undomestic Diva said...

See. This is why I write. No numbers involved.

Swirl Girl said...

Here's a math ratio for you. In our house - Math is to bodily funtions like mom is to dad.

If Mom is to puke and dad is to blood, and Language Arts is puke, then Dad = X?

(x = math = blood )

see? I told you I suck at algebra.

thebeesknees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoeyjane said...

Is it wrong that posts written about math and specifically about mixed fractions makes me kind of hot?

Yeah, well it doesn't. Nope. Not at all.

thebeesknees said...

Just so you know, it will most definitely be on the test. I'm getting an education degree; we're taught to go through and pick out the trickiest crap to test on. We're evil like that.

MommyTime said...

Oh, Tootsie, every time I am lamenting the incomprehensibility of preschool tears over underpants choices or whether meat will be inedible unless placed inside a tortilla with copious amounts of cheese, I read your blog and realize: good Lord, I forgot about the word problems which are yet to come!

Thank you for putting my travails in some context.

And I'm even not that bad at math.

Mekhismom said...

LOl. Pray it is not on the test? You are too funny. Perhaps next time a tutor is in order. And I love how Stephan gave you the reasoning. I have no idea that it means but good try. All of the math over all of my years of school is somewhere lost in the recesses of my mind and I will get a tutor for my son when he is old enough for such things.

Laura said...

You lost me at the word MATH! Another great post that makes me thank my lucky stars that cats don't have to take math class!

Mama Dawg said...

That sounds like me in a couple of years when my daughter enters junior high!

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

I dove straight into that bottle of Xanax right when you told me to.

We are struggling through pre-algebra and the thing that pisses me off is that you can't look up answers on the internet. What is the capital of Belize? No problem - google it. 10 1/3 minus 6 2/3 - does not compute on google.

Ringleader said...

Kids 4th grade math- had to look in the glossary to find out what "mean" means (why don' they just call it the average!), now, middle school and a scientific calculator that looks like the control panel for the space shuttle. Daddy gets to help her with that thank you very much-

One Reader said...

You know if the math they teach in school now was the same math they taught in school when we were going there would be less of a need for tutors cause parnets could help. Now they give totally different names for shit. When we went to school and the bottom number of a subtraction problem was bigger than the top we "Borrowed" now they "Regroup" I was all what the hell is "Regrouping?" Even when I was still in High school I couldn't help with 4th grade math, cause all the names had been renamed!

AGSoccerMom said...

Good to know having the damn book doesn't even help. My kids bring home worksheets with NO Books. I first check the internet for it's wisdom, and when I can't figure it out I do what any other mother would do, call a friends kid a grade higher than mine.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This is my gripe: Why in the name of all that is holy do kids need to know how to do shit like this with a paper and a pencil come on what the frick? Have you EVER in you ENTIRE life had occasion to stand around adding or subtracting mixed fractions in your head or on paper? And if you didn't/couldn't/wouldn't? Would Something Bad Happen? NO! NO! No, I say. NO! We have computers, we have calculators, we have Geek Squads for shit like this. But even absent that, what fricking practical application is there in life for knowing how to do this shit without a computer or calculator. Okay, here is a scenario: You are BAKING COOKIES and you need to double the recipe and therefore add fractions, but the battery dies on your calculator, and then the power goes out and you don't have your computer, and then the phone line goes dead and you can't call someone who does have a battery or electricity, and so? You go to the store and buy cookies. Whatever. Sure, math is important if you are a chemist, a computer analyst, or a divorce lawyer, let's say. But all of those folks can and do get the job done with electronics. WHY torture kids with numbers and paper? WHY?

I'm sorry. I got all ranty.

Would you like to know how I feel about homework in general?

EatPlayLove said...

I love math, I would have slept with my head in the book until I solved such a problem. I know you want to solve it, you must!

The Introvert said...

Math used to give my brain mini-seizures. Literally. Like that was the doctor's diagnosis. Just reading that post gave me a headache.

Baby Favorite said...

You had me at:

"Then I threw the textbook across the room with some fuck you on my lips."

Awesome!

JCK said...

You rock the Community College. Better yet, tell Mr. F that there aren't that many moms who tutor their own children and can throw books at the same time.

Saucy said...

This is why I put Loopy into KUMON. Godsend. Math homework + Loopy = not my problem, I'm drinking Dr. Pepper and watching TV. That's good math.

Eve Grey said...

That's what I have to look forward to?! Fuckity.

Robin said...

Huh. Had a day like that this week with the 14 year old.

Glasses of wine help alot. BIG glasses....

Madame Queen said...

Ooh, I was actually enjoying that until you said fractions. That's where you lost me.

Kaye Butler said...

Oh, your son's school must be WAY behind times. Why, heck, YARM13YOL's school, they are so far advanced and the teachers are so smart THEY DON'T EVEN USE THE TEXT BOOKS! The books are handed out just to TRICK the parents into thinking that actual LEARNING is going on in those hallowed halls.

And lets discuss the STUDY GUIDE.

I think after the bagazillionth time of me mentioning.."I've been to school before..." she finally gets that I KNOW how things work.

The Girl Next Door said...

You Slay me. The best. Yes, I tried doing the math tutor thingy with my kids - they got to repeat algebra 1.5 times because of the ciriculum (no they didn't fail), and they eventually came to this conclusion: "Hey Mom, stop trying to help us. You have no idea what you're doing." Yes, they said that. And they were right.

mysecondjournal said...

..my step son is in the 3rd grade. He asked me about Mean and Mode and I said WHAT?

I am NOT going to be able to do math AT ALL...
We do have AWESOME discussions about history.