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Topic: Enrichment
Replies: 38   Last Post: Aug 24, 2012 1:33 PM

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Robert Hansen

Posts: 11,345
From: Florida
Registered: 6/22/09
Re: Enrichment
Posted: Aug 19, 2012 4:05 AM
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When you wrote...

"I have a student who doesn't do well on tests. He has completed geometry, and will be studying intermediate algebra. I have decided to explore calculus with him."

I took it to mean that he hasn't been doing well, as in he didn't get algebra, regardless of how many years of it he took. Is this the case or is this not the case? I don't suggest that you are a bad teacher if this student is failing to learn algebra. I am not even suggesting that this is a bad student. I am only questioning the idea of teaching a student "some calculus" when that student was unable to learn "some algebra". If he did well in algebra but is failing geometry then that changes things. I guess we would need more information about what he has succeeded with and what he hasn't succeeded with.

Also, you said "It is geometry that he had trouble with". I just want to make sure I understand this correctly. When you say "had" do you mean that he did poorly in geometry but then over the summer he reapplied himself and took another pass at it and now does well with geometry? Or do you mean (what most people mean when they say "had"), that he did poorly in geometry and if you were to test him this instant, he would do just as poorly (probably even worse)?

Maybe it would be easier to just tell us what this student has gotten (does well with) and what he has not gotten (does poorly with) rather than telling us the courses he has taken. Give us his current state with regards to his command of algebra and geometry, and if his command of these two subject areas is poor then you might want to throw arithmetic in there as well.

To be honest, when I hear "doesn't do well on tests", I smell a rat. I wonder to my self why this teacher doesn't just say that this student is doing poorly in the subject. And I will tell you why I wonder this. It is actually very rare that a student does well in a subject but does poorly on tests. I have watched enough students take enough tests and certainly studied the results of enough tests to know that students that do well in a subject rarely blow the tests. The probability is small. The vast majority of students that fail tests do so because they failed to get the subject. Doing well in the subject and yet failing the tests is rare enough that a teacher would never just say "doesn't do well on tests". The teacher would qualify that with additional explanation.

Is this student doing well in algebra and/or geometry, or not?

Bob Hansen

On Aug 18, 2012, at 9:09 PM, Peter Duveen <> wrote:

> Bob, this student has completed first year Algebra. It is geometry that he had trouble with. I originally thought he might have more time for some "enrichment," but as the school session approaches, he will probably want to concentrate on the content of his next algebra course.

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