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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mathography IV

Another stellar mathography to consider. This year's crop of math writers seem to tilt towards the positive more.

I have friends who are majoring in the sciences: engineering, astronomy, physics, etc. Soon, their study of math will help them build bridges, predict the next solar eclipse, and show how big of an impact certain cars have in a car crash. As for me, I only care about the San Francisco Giants’ baseball statistics and buying things for the cheapest price. No matter what it takes, I will find the best offer for CDs, even if I have to wait months. My mom always taught me at an early age whenever we went grocery shopping that I can always find a better deal somewhere else. Of course, she’s the type of woman who would probably drive two miles to buy gasoline to save three cents per gallon. I don’t take it that far because that would be counterproductive. I aspire to be a math teacher between grades 5-12. Why do I care about rocket science or building nuclear bombs? All I need to know are the practical things in life: buying cheaper groceries, finding a reasonable place to live, and the on-base percentage (OBP) of my favorite baseball players.

I was always good at math, scary good even. I struggled in reading comprehension, so there would be a huge comparison in my other subjects with math. In my report cards, literature, language arts, social studies, and science would range between a C and a B-minus. Math, however, would usually fall between a 94% and a 98%. Maybe it was my mother who emphasized that a lot of life’s everyday situations involve math. She still wanted me to read better, but she was right. There was more use of math in everyday life, as opposed to explaining the significance of the grayness in The Great Gatsby. Besides, my math teachers seemed more passionate about math than the literature teachers. In fact, I never learned how to fully comprehend literature until 11th grade, and I didn’t start writing stronger essays until I started college. Math just seemed more useful for me at the time.

Sometimes, though, I did struggle, and I let my emotions get the best of me. I had struggled with geometry in seventh grade. To me, it just felt like the rules were being made up on the spot. It didn’t make sense to me that some formula could tell me how many vertices could be on a specific polygon, instead of just counting. Even if it was a 200-sides polygon, I was hell-bent on imagining it in my head and counting the vertices. Also, in eighth grade Algebra 1, I struggled in the later stages of solving for x. In particular, I hated factoring quadratics. My math teacher didn’t offer me any specific ways of how to factor better other than “Practice, practice, practice.” Laziness has always been my forte, so I hated hearing that. It took me until ninth grade to finally understand Algebra 1, and I regained my expertise in math. The differences between my middle school teachers and my high school teachers were very noticeable. My high school teachers taught in a way of my liking. They offered me clear step-by-step instructions on how algebra is in all mathematics. In high school math classes, I still had my struggles, but I pulled through with hard work. Recently, I struggled in Calculus 1 because I could not understand the professor’s accent, but I tried again with another SFSU professor. I passed with an A. Currently, I am taking Calculus 2, and I am pushing through my struggles.

I am interested in teaching math because it’s my best subject, as a student and as a tutor. I have seen the struggles and the victories in my life with math. I can apply the strategies my high school teachers taught me with the grading style of my college professors. My college professors use positive reinforcement in their grading due to the addition online homework assignments. These online homework assignments allow for multiple attempts at a single problem with step-by-step examples on how to do a similar problem. I believe that if students become positively reinforced that it encourages them to study harder in the subject in general. My own personal style also involves the use of different colors to differentiate the original problem, the work to solve the problem, and the answer to the problem. When students are copying notes, they don’t always comprehend what they see. I want to guide students through the steps without and maybe even keep the classroom entertaining and positively reinforcing.

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