Saturday, May 19, 2012

Transition to 9

This past summer, I tutored students who had just graduated from grade 8 and were preparing to go to grade 9 math classes. I tutored in a one-on-one environment, so we could really hone in on their own difficulties (note that at the same time, a colleague of mine was running a "Transition to 9" camp, where she would do the same thing, just in a small group setting).

To prepare myself for this, I grabbed a grade 9 textbook and looked at what topics might be covered. To no surprise, linear functions came up quite frequently and was definitely the "big idea" of grade 9 math. So, I really wanted to focus on linear functions (you know, the good ol' y = mx + b) to make sure my students understood how these functions worked but more importantly, why they were so important.

We started with figure out slope. Really, this is just to figure out if change is constant over time (which it always was, since quadratic functions aren't introduced until grade 10). To make this information relevant, we talked about human growth. We took milestones throughout life (with the help of some research of course) and just graphed them and quickly noticed that this was a non-linear function. Then, we looked at selling chocolates (something they had done as part of a school fundraiser). We graphed the relationship between the number sold and the cost and found that this was a linear relationship. Then we worked with calculating slope (rise/run).  We used geoboards to create linear functions and used this information to figure out slope. They quickly got the hang of it.

When we started working on using our slope and a point to create our final equation, they asked "why do we even need to do all this work?" The answer was simple enough: it's easier to give an equation to someone as opposed to giving them a set of points.

Once I knew they understood the concepts, I wanted to ensure they got enough practice working with creating equations given two points or given a graph and then to make a graph based on the equation. We spent weeks just practicing these skills (mind you, they only came in once a week for an hour). We graphed whatever information they found interesting, including comparing revenues of two business models (these kids were really interested in how they could make the most money doing the least amount of work).

By the time September came around, these students felt comfortable with their math skills. When they started learning about linear equations, they were pros and could do it without any difficulties. One of my students had a 60% in grade 8 math, but they ended up with an 86% in grade 9 math. I feel as though I had done my job as a teacher and this student's confidence level was surprising, even to his parents.

The only thing left to worry about, though, was EQAO.

1 comment:

  1. The transition to grade 9 math can be terrifying for many students. I am currently tutoring a student who is in grade 8, but has missed a great deal of school over the last 3 years. My job is to start with grade 6 expectations and work my way through to the end of grade 8. The hope is that he will attend grade 9 and be able to take the applied level math course.

    Making the math relevant to real life has been very helpful in teaching many concepts so far. I have been using the gap closing material and a book my Marian Small called "Leaps and Bounds". I am testing his level of understanding in a given area and then working towards filling the gaps that he has.

    Does anyone have experience tutoring or any other ideas/resources I could be using to help me prepare this student?