MATH IS A LANGUAGE
And just like every language, one has to know the alphabet to form words
The alphabet of math is numbers. The sight words are the basic addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts. Without REALLY knowing the facts, higher math is very difficult if not impossible. When a student doesn't know their facts like they know their phone number, math starts to look like a foreign language. См Дик Выполнить. That passage says, "See Dick run," perhaps the first sentance we ever read. A little harder in Russian, isn't it? That is how students see introductory algebra when he or she doesn't know the math facts. Learning the facts is job one. It isn't fun. It isn't easy for some students. But it is essential. I have tools to help make learning the facts easier. Once the facts are down pat, math gets a whole lot easier and the students is ready to move on to geometry, functions, long division, fractions and probability. Skills he or she will need throughout school -- and life.
Here are a couple of quick addition and subtraction test from Mr. Myers' Classroom (www.mrmyers.org) to give you an idea of how your student is doing with his or her basic facts.
MAKING MATH MORE INTERESTING AND FUN
Many students have an aversion to math
Math is not hard, it is just different. So I teach it differently than most teachers. I use every resource at my disposal -- presentations, real world examples, videos, games -- to defeat the aversion to math and help students get excited about learning. I created a PowerPoint presentation for every math indicator. Students learn better with visuals. I add sound effects to make the presentations more interesting and to keep the students attention. Below is a link to a small sample of one of the presentations. I will make the PowerPoints available to every student so they can review at home. Use the back button on the browser to return to this page.
Just like with reading, knowing vocabulary is essential
Scalene. Rectangle. Function table. Variable. Math has an extensive vocabulary. Knowing the vocabulary and how the ideas interact will enable your student to not just learn the terms, but to understand them. Memorizing without understanding is pointless. The memory is gone quickly, but the understanding stays forever. My goal is to not just get students to remember the formula for the area of a triangle (1/2 b x h) so they can pass a test, but for he or she to understand how the formula was derived. I use visualization to help students remember. Below is a short sample of this technique.
Give your student the gift of opportunity. What do you have to lose (a few dollars) vs. what your student has to gain (a lifetime of success)?