Monthly Archives: November 2016

Read the Directions

For the past five or six years, my son has cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes, and prepared homemade gravy on Thanksgiving.  He started at age 10 or 11.  We’re not sure.  A couple of years ago, my husband thought it would be a good idea for someone else to learn to cook a turkey.  He and a different son shopped, prepared, and roasted the turkey.  Everyone else busily prepared side dishes:  cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, scalloped corn, and of course mashed potatoes.  In all the busy-ness, no one noticed the lack of turkey aroma.

When the timer beeped, someone pulled the turkey out of the oven. The turkey looked beautiful.  Well, it looked beautiful, for a shrink-wrapped turkey.

We use roasting bags to cook our Thanksgiving bird.  Not much to clean up, and the turkey turns out perfect every time.  This year’s shoppers had spotted a box with a picture of a turkey on it and without reading the label they purchased and used a basting bag. This bag was not meant to cook in, but to marinate the bird in herbs and salt water before cooking.

About half of us opted to eat the turkey.  The other half concluded that, while the beautifully roasted poultry might not kill us that day, we have no idea what the long-term effects would be of eating turkey roasted in a basting bag.  We opted for a turkey-less Thanksgiving. It’s not like there was nothing else to eat!

This story came to mind in part because we’re approaching Thanksgiving, and in part, because I’ve scored lots of math tests and other math assignments since school started.  I will probably never cease to be surprised about the number of errors caused by not reading the directions.  Instead, students have looked at the picture, or the numbers, or the symbols and done what they thought should be done with them.  They saw the turkey on the box and roasted the turkey.

Students, please read the instructions.  Yes, you did some math, but if you didn’t answer the question you’ve likely missed the point of the problem.  And once you’ve solved something, go back and read again.  Sometimes we solve and we think we’re done, but the question has not been answered.  Pay attention to the details.  It will pay off in real life.  The turkey will be delicious!




Homework Due 11/29 and 11/30

Happy Thanksgiving!  There are no classes next week, 11/22 and 11/23.  Extra credit will be given for any student who cooks something for Thanksgiving dinner and writes about it.  Write about the process of cooking, any math used, and how your dish turned out.

Tickets given out the second half of the semester will be collected on 12/6 and 12/7. Winners will be announced here.  As before, if you see your name listed here as a winner, you must email me to claim your prize.

Registration for spring semester opens November 16.  Personal Finance is offered spring semester.  Join us for Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance and learn why and how to live debt-free.  See the WEST website for more information.  Click here:  WEST

Math for the Middle Grades – Lessons 35-38, and Homework number 13.  Page 153 is optional.  Lesson 36 is optional, but students in grades 6 and up should try it.  On page 164 there is a cross number puzzle.  Figure out the answers, but you don’t need to put them into the puzzle grid if you don’t want to.  There is no Homework 12.

Math 76 – Lessons 43-47 and Test 7.

Algebra 1/2, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 – Lessons 51-55 and test 10.

Geometry – Sections 8.1 and 8.2.  We’ll continue to work on unit 7 in class through the rest of the semester.

Homework Due 11/15 and 11/16

Let’s finish well!  There are just a few weeks left of this semester. Students have been doing an impressive job of keeping up with their math homework and tests.  Keep at it!  You’ve got this!

Registration for spring semester opens November 16.  Personal Finance is offered spring semester.  Join us for Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance and learn why and how to live debt-free.

Math for the Middle Grades – Lessons 32-34 and Homework number 11.  Homework 11 is “Chapter 2 Test”, but it doesn’t need to be taken as a test.  If you want to look back to chapter 2 for help, go ahead.  If you need to email me for help, do it!

Math 76 – Lessons 39-42 and Test 6.

Algebra 1/2, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 – Lessons 46-50 and test 8.

Geometry – finish unit 6.  We’ll continue to work on unit 7 in class through the rest of the semester.  Be sure to bring units 6, 7, and 8 to class next week.


Real life includes struggle, failure, and pain.  When should children have to handle these things?

For the most part, children learn and mature as life presents opportunities and children decide to take advantage of the opportunities.  The events of life naturally include situations that have struggle, failure, and/or pain built in.  The death of a pet, moving, and unfair treatment by peers are some examples.  In each of these situations parents have to choose:  Do I protect my child from this or do I allow my child to struggle with the complications and discomfort of the situation?

It’s so easy to say, and so hard to do:  As much as possible, model, teach, and guide children through life’s challenges.  Resist the urge to solve the problem, make it better, or soften the consequences. Generally, I consider the child’s age and maturity, then look inward to determine how greatly I am underestimating the capacity of the child to handle a given situation. I know I’ve softened the blows of life for my children too much, and I can’t remember many situations where I wish I had shielded them more.

WEST parents, you have an opportunity to walk through some real life struggle, pain, and failure with your child.  Math class.  Walk alongside your child as he or she struggles with homework and deadlines.  Empathize with the pain and effort of learning algebra. Allow your child to fail a test, or fail to complete homework.  In each situation, process the events and turn them into lessons.



Homework Due 11/8 and 11/9

It’s just past mid-semester.  Check to see your student’s progress.  If you no longer have the access information for, please email me and I will resend it. If you have any questions about your student’s progress, please email me.

Math for the Middle Grades – Lessons 31-33 and Homework 10.  In class, we played with coins and talked about all the different ways coins can be combined to make a certain amount.  We also imagined what it would be like if we had more values of coins, like 2 cent, 3 cent, or 7 cent coins.  We found that thinking of decimal numbers to the hundredths’ place as money made lots of sense.  Then we jumped into decimal numbers out to the thousandths place.  We added, subtracted, rounded, and wrote in expanded form.

Math 76 – Lessons 35-38 and test 5.  (We covered and completed practice problems for lessons 33-38 in class.  We are skipping the odds on lessons 33-34.)   I am so impressed with this class! Meeting the last hour of the day can be tough, but these students have been engaged, thinking, and learning!  Their written work is also impressive.  The start of the year was a challenging for some who had not used a textbook for math, or who would rather not write so much, but students’ work in this class is looking good!

Algebra 1/2, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 – Lessons 41-45 and Test 8

Geometry – Sections 6:1 and 6:2