When I was teaching for our Algebra 2 videos, I found myself regularly harking back to concepts that had been presented in the Alpha through Zeta levels of Math-U-See.
When adding and subtracting algebraic expressions such as 2x2y + 7x2y − 3x2y, I found myself repeating this mantra:
Teach Math By Relating to Your Student
This concept was initially presented in the Beta level. When adding algebraic fractions, I reminded the students of the “rule of four” which is a central topic in Epsilon. You have heard me talk many times about how math builds upon itself. A student’s foundation in math is very important. I try to show students the similarities between what they are learning and what they have already been taught. Algebra is arithmetic in base X, which is similar to base 10. When you can, try to relate new topics to similar topics your students have already mastered.
On the way to a Fourth of July parade, I was asked by my third son (who was 5 years old at the time) why we celebrated this holiday. I began talking about Boston and Bunker Hill, which we had visited as a family. I talked about the Boston Tea Party and the battles that occurred at Bunker Hill. Then I continued with George Washington. Another family vacation had taken us to Williamsburg, Virginia, where we had seen the movie The Story of a Patriot. I asked my son if he remembered the man in the movie who had crushed a walnut in his hand. I knew that image had made an impression on my son and commented that the man who did that was George Washington.
Using these two images I wove a simple story of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of the United States of America. I was able to teach him because I knew what he knew. I related something he didn’t know to places and events that he did know. In this same way, it is important to point out to your student the many ways that math builds upon itself, as this will allow them to connect the concepts and lead to a deeper understanding of what they’re learning.
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