Cody Perry: Creating Opportunities for Students

So when when they come into the college, of course they have, you know, they’ve had multiple math classes in the arts and sciences. Of course, they’ve made it all the way through K twelve passing their star. And within the first three weeks, I have them do their baseline exam in their content. And actually, it’s their. Mean, scores are not necessarily passing, but they’re higher than some of the other content areas even coming in. And so they take that in the first three weeks so that we can all get a baseline of where they’re at, what content you know they need to work on. And from there, I look at all that data and I tailor my class and what we’re going to cover based on their weaker areas, which typically doesn’t change that much. It’s fractions probability. Algebraic reasoning and algebraic thinking, and so and geometry and measurement are the big areas where we struggle with. And that’s not just here, that’s across the country. And so I tailor the assignments to that when we’re talking about the pedagogy. Whatever we’re working on is tied to their areas of weakness so that they can build that capacity to do better on those exams. And so then I have periodic check ins there where I check how much time they’ve spent studying and practicing for their exams. And so that way I can kind of, you know. Keep track and help them to understand that they need to be accountable to that study so that they can be prepared. And then, you know, I again, I focus on the concepts behind it because obviously knowing the steps, knowing the procedures, they know them, but they don’t always know when to apply them because they don’t understand the concepts. And so typically, schools will just go over the procedures over and over again, and it can maybe prepare them for an exam. But as I always tell them, I don’t necessarily care about the exam. You have to pass it. I want you to do well, but that’s not my goal here. My goal is that when you become a math teacher, you’re not going to keep this cycle of Let’s cram for the star. Let’s get it done and out of the way. And then by summer, you’ve forgotten everything you learned that year because our brains are very efficient. And if we tell them why, I just need to know this for the test. The minute the tests over our brain says, yeah, we can clean it out for new knowledge. And so it’s not very effective. And so I focus a lot on the concepts as we’re going through. And so in the first couple of weeks, one of the first questions I ask them is why can’t or yeah, why can’t you divide by zero? Everybody knows that rule, but almost nobody can explain why. And then as we get through that one, I eventually ask them, Why do we invert and multiply when we’re dividing fractions? And of course, well, that’s what my teacher told me. Or that’s just the way it is. It’s easier that way. Yes, but why does it work? Why do we do it that way? And I tell them at that point, by the end of the semester, you need to be able to explain that to a third grader or fourth grader, something like that, because most of them don’t realize you can actually divide straight across. Sometimes it’s easier that way, sometimes it’s more challenging, and that’s when we would invert and multiply. Sometimes if you know the concepts well enough. You don’t even have to do any procedure, you can just think your way to the answer. And so I talk a lot about the big picture and helping them realize that if they can see the big picture, they don’t necessarily have to always work out the steps. And so then throughout the semester, I give them different math assignments so that I can give them practice, but correct practice. I tell them, you know, I’m not so worried about, you know, how quickly you can do it. I want you to focus on making sure you understand how to do it. Because at the end of the year, when you go to take the easy six exam, you’re not going to have the little app that you can take a picture and it’s going to tell you the answer, so you need to be able to do it independently and. Know how to read the questions, because the questions aren’t always great on some of the standardized tests, so we really work on that. And then I’ve had, you know, like yesterday, I did kind of an open session for anybody that’s taking their state exam over the break. They were able to come in and ask questions. I gave them some test taking tips based on, you know, tests that I had looked at from previous years and things like that.

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