7th Pre-AP Algebra Open House

Welcome, and thank you for coming.

     Math professionals agree that to accommodate the most developmentally ready students schools should modify the general math program in depth, complexity, and pacing.  What that means is that a Pre-AP mathematics curriculum should investigate broader and more non-traditional topics, in more depth, and at a faster rate.  Let me assure you that this class is designed to function in exactly that manner.
     The purpose of this course is to cover the first seven chapters of the textbook, to integrate some non-traditional problems, to prepare for the SAT, to introduce the ideas of functions, and to incorporate technology as a tool for investigating, learning, and understanding.  Calculators will be used only for the coincidental computation that arises during problem solving, and preparation for the SAT during the first semester.  At the end of the year students will be well prepared for the higher levels of Pre-AP Algebra that they will encounter in the second half of this course, next year.
     I wish I could tell you that I have discovered an easy way for kids to learn high-level algebra skills, but I haven't.  My kids still learn the old fashioned way Ė they work. 

     There is a price to pay for kids to be able to master algebra.  The price is, they have to attend class every day, pay attention, and they have to work.  They need to be committed to ensuring mastery, not just sitting through the class. 
     Even the most talented students are human, and human nature is to take the path of least resistance.  The result is that students are happiest when they have no homework, or when the work is simple.  That's why it is still a team effort to get kids educated at the level of their ability.  The education team consists of the players, the coach, and the pep squad.  As coach I will teach all the plays and techniques required to win the game.  You can help by encouraging your players to give their best efforts, and by expecting excellence.  Every player has the opportunity to play the whole game, and to be on the Varsity Team.  All he needs to do is show up, work hard at practice, memorize the play book, be enthusiastic even if he doesn't get to play quarterback, and give his best effort on game days.  No player will be allowed to sit on the bench.  As AlgebraGuy is fond of saying (AG): "You canít learn how to pull the wagon by riding on it."
     I wonít ask your sons to do anything they canít do, however, I will be challenging every student in the class on a daily basis.  As parents of boys I would encourage you to read the book by Leonard Sax called, Why Gender Matters.  I am sure you will find it very enlightening, and for the ladies, I guarantee that it will go a long way towards your gaining a better understanding of, not only your son, but also your husband.
     Mathematically at least, childhood is over for your son.  I will be introducing him to high school math.  Eventually nearly everyone struggles with math, thatís not necessarily a bad thing.  Itís only negative if the struggler gives up.  Itís a huge positive occurrence when we help your son learn how to overcome hurdles.  There are lots of obstacles in real life, and those who have had little practice at overcoming them in school will have a learning curve in the real world that is sometimes beyond them.  Confidence comes from having overcome hardships, not from avoiding experiencing them.  (AG) "The prizes of life some fail to win, because they doubt the power within". 
     I believe that everyone in my class can do what we will be doing in math this year.  I believe that any time that I am not challenging your son in class I am doing him, and you, a disservice.  For this reason, please know that I will do everything in my power to ensure that I can sleep well each night knowing that I earned my pay that day by challenging your son in this class.
     Although adults can often enjoy a rich life without having great math skills the fact remains that the amount of math that is studied and mastered in the school years has a profound impact on oneís level of financial success and satisfaction with life.  I feel obligated to give your son the richest math experience I can, and to encourage him to work hard to learn all he can.  Homework is a key element to aid in the mastery of the concepts that will be presented this year.  (AG) "The fiddler who practices most plays best."
     I donít want your young men to have to lament, as Tom Hanks does, ďI always wanted to be an astronaut, but I didnít have the mathĒ.  I want your sons to have all the skills necessary to be able to chase any dream they may have in life, including those that require numeracy.
     The mission statement for the math department at the Academy states that we will provide a challenging and stimulating environment that emphasizes math as a language, so the vocabulary of math will be emphasized throughout the year, building on the vocabulary from past years, and preparing for the vocabulary that will be introduced next year.
     I encourage you to peruse my web site as there is much more information available here that may be of some interest to you.
     I join all the other Academy teachers in the promise that we will make every effort to provide your sons with the exceptional academic program that is part of our schoolís mission.  We understand why you send your boys to the Academy, and we feel compelled to live up to your expectations.
     According to Henry Ford, ďThinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in itĒ.  I relate that quote to the routine of physical exercise. Many people (including me) do not like the physical workout it takes on a regular basis to help avoid/postpone some of the physical decline that comes with aging.  Some people go as far as to hire a personal trainer whose job it is to push his clients to continue doing what they know themselves is very beneficial, but who require the push to do the work.  I want you to consider me as your sonsí personal trainer in Algebra I Pre-AP.  I am here to push them to do all they can to be the best they can be in mathematics.  The Pre in Pre-AP means that I am here to help your sons pre-pare for the rigors of AP mathematics in high school.  Whether in physical or mental training there is little growth without effort.  But remember that the result of the effort will result in learning that lasts a lifetime.  And the joy of learning and of overcoming obstacles helps to instill a solid work ethic in our students.
     In December I will be preparing most of your sons for the math portion of the SAT.  There are several dates these guys can take the SAT for the Duke Talent Search, but if you will sign them up for the December test date they will have maximum time to prepare.
     I encourage you to spend a little time perusing my web site:  AlgebraGuy.com, in order to gain some insight into my philosophies about learning, teaching, mathematics, homework, technology, and much more.  In addition, I encourage you to feel free to provide me with any input you care to give me concerning this course.  My goal is to be the best I can be in helping your sons to master more mathematics than they believe they can.
                                          Mike Hansen, AlgebraGuy
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