It's the SuperBowl today, but that's not the game I'm referring to....rather, Second Semester Math. The holiday break has ended, finals/midterms have come and gone, and we've had a number of snow days this year. All of these have given students a well needed mental rest but now it's time to refocus your efforts on where you'd like to see your grades come the end of the year and to build a nice foundation of understanding that will be needed for next year's class due to the cumulative nature of math.
My favorite technique for students is getting a head start and staying ahead of the game. Imagine you are running a race and you fly off the starting blocks, sprint down the lane, but get this....the starting gun has yet to even go off! When it does finally fire you settle into a steady pace even saving a little extra energy for the sprint at the end. And, there is no penalty for doing this....in math that is. When students take advantage of this I see changes in their confidence level, their grades, and a sense of relief and even enjoyment when it comes to their math class. A student yesterday told me that their teacher said jokingly to him, "stop raising your hand...give the other students a chance!" He was so proud when he told me this and that he knew what was going on in class and that it was now so much easier. I always try and spend some time looking ahead at upcoming material with students to help give them this head start but students can do this for themselves as well. Just take a few minutes and "speed read" the section ahead of class. You don't have to understand everything you are reading, just skim it spending a few extra moments on the formulas in the boxes, bolded terms, italicized sentences, etc. Give this a try and let me know what it does for you!
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