Math Class Fun

IMG_3560We are currently working on plotting points on a coordinate plane in a math class I teach to middle school aged homeschoolers at WEB. I waded into this subject expecting many to have a been-there-done-that attitude, but surprisingly, most all needed a refresher on this. To make it more fun, I created a coordinate graph mystery picture and took them outside to try to draw it in the parking lot. They did fairly well. The resulting picture wasn’t exactly what I had on my paper, but toward the end of class they were beginning to catch on. You can see the WEB turned out clearly but the flowers underneath were a little weak.

This coming week, I issued a challenge for the class. Everyone is to create their own mystery picture and I will judge the best three to be drawn in the parking lot, weather permitting. These kids really love a competition. Here are the parameters:

1. Each coordinate plane should go from -10 to 10 on both the x-axis and y-axis. This will result in a square 20 X 20.

2. Draw out a picture  using at least 20 coordinate pairs with straight lines connecting them. My picture had about 100, so 20 should be easy to do.

3. Each point on the picture is labeled by its x coordinate first and then the y grouped in parenthesis and separated by a comma:  (x,y)

4. Create a column of coordinate pairs for all the points on a continuous line. When you reach the end of the line and need to take your pencil up, Write STOP.

5. Here is an example of one so you can see how it was done: Fox’s Face on Math Crush

6. I will choose three for us to do outside, weather permitting.

7. In order for your picture to be chosen, the coordinates need to be correct!.

8. We will divide into teams to see which team can do the best job at reproducing the picture they are given.

This is something anyone can do with their child this spring. There are many mystery pictures available online to pick from or you can create your own like I did. Have fun! Let me know how it goes!



IMG_1778Last year I stumbled upon a new adventure in my homeschooling odyssey. I was asked to come and work at a homeschooling tutorial teaching chemistry to middle schoolers. I was thrilled by the opportunity even though I worried that my scattered ways might not translate well to teaching others.

WEB is tutorial set in East Nashville for middle school aged homeschoolers. It is academically rigorous and is meant to act as a bridge between homeschooling and high school for those who wish to reenter formal education. While it is held at a Methodist Church and is friendly to religion, the science curriculum is secular. This was extremely important to me. I had decided that I would never sign another “Statement of Faith” again. For me, faith is too personal to completely match up to anyone else and too important to sign anything less than what I am. It was precisely this that had prevented me from looking into teaching at other local tutorials.

While I was buzzing with excitement, my children were presented with the somewhat unwelcome challenge of entering their first tutorial program.

My oldest daughter was in eighth grade and excited about meeting new kids and challenges, but worried about adding too much to our schedule and not having time for her real school work.

My son was in sixth grade and absolutely adamant about not wanting to take classes where he had to write for other teachers. The ideas of tests and being forced to speak in front of others terrified him. We compromised by only enrolling him in an earth science class and not the literature class as I had hoped.

My youngest was too young to be enrolled but was welcome to sit in the science classes and  listen. It’s a good thing she is the type of child who sits still well and loves to learn.

The year progressed and we each confronted our fears and concerns. I worked hard to stay organized and on schedule. My older daughter did let her other school work slide sometimes, but no more seriously than before. My son overcame his test anxiety and even consented to being enrolled in the literature class this year. My youngest made new friends as well as learned to do some of her work independently while I taught.  Yet the most important thing we all learned was that I love to teach and need to do this for myself as well as them.