Weekly Math Updates

December 6, 2006


  • Parent Email Response
  • Media Articles
  • Non-Math Items of Interest
  • Weekly Comic

Well, as the most observant of you noticed, last week I didn't send out a weekly update. I actually had a pretty nasty taste of spyware that corrupted my registry and knocked out my ability to boot into windows so I had to do an upgrade (much to my wife's chagrin :)) and I'm finally back up and running. No data was lost though. I lost data on a hard drive crash a few years ago and now I run five hard drives to ensure I never lose anything. Two drives are mirrored and then I had two other local drives that I could back up to and then one external box if there was ever a fire or anything I could grab and run. Yes there are certain things I'm paranoid over....loss of data, communists, and school district administrators. :)

So what has happened in the last week? There's been a couple of developments that I don't have enough information on to report to you yet. There's motion on the committee to revise Utah's math standards which is of course the best thing to happen to Utah since the pioneers settled. Then there's some activity to help break up the really big districts into more manageable pieces that will give citizens a greater ability to participate in the system and make them more responsive to parental needs.

I would still love to have you take my survey if you didn't. Here's a link:

Parent Email Response

After sending out the email a couple weeks ago about Mountain Ridge I got two letters. The first:

Hi Oak,

I just read the letter of frustration from a Mt. Ridge mom.  Both my kids take algebra from Mrs. Larsen there -- one is in 7th grade and one is in 9th.  By choice she is not teaching from the Investigations curriculum and my kids are getting a very good education in algebra right now.  She's a great teacher. 

Originally my son was in the Advanced Placement Program at Mt. Ridge but I pulled him out immediately when I learned that the Advance Placement math teacher is a die-hard Investigations supporter.  I very nicely told the counselor why I was removing him from the program and she was supportive. 

The best way to find the non-Investigations math teachers is to talk with them individually and explain that you don't want your children in Investigations, then keep looking if they don't pan out.  Eventually, the teachers and school leaders will get the message.

And I want to say the counselors at Mt. Ridge have been very helpful and supportive any time I've gone in for help.  We've always been considerate when speaking to them, and for the most part we've ended up with what we've asked for. 

And from another parent:

Regarding Mountain Ridge,  Mrs. Larsen only teaches traditional math.  She is a great teacher.  One counselor assured me at the beginning of the school year that Mrs. Witt taught traditional math.  This was not the case.  Do not take the counselors word for it.   Talk to the teachers or other parents. 

Media Articles

Charter Enrollments Double by Laura Hancock
Shocking!!!!! Charter school enrollments doubled in Northern Utah County...those poor deceived parents that didn't realize what a bargain it was to have their children in Alpine's top-notch math program... The funny thing is, if the charters hadn't stepped in, ASD would have been over their enrollment estimates. The sad thing is, Laura didn't point out that charters are K-8 with most of the kids K-6 and if you take that into account and reduce ASD's population and account for home and private schooled children, we're closer to having 20% of the children in ASD "opt-out" than the "less than 10 percent" she mentions in the article.

How to End the Math Wars by Claudia Wallis
Time Magazine Online
What starts out a pretty good article ends on a sour note explaining that as the pendulum swings away from fuzzy math we're in for boring times-table math that kids will hate. What people don't get is that solid modern programs like Singapore or Saxon math, *ARE* balanced math because it trains for both computation and comprehension *AND* they're fun. Programs don't teach kids to understand math, teachers do. The program contains the content. With no content, there will be no comprehension. A teacher can't give understanding unless a child knows how to perform the action. Fuzzy math doesn't have the content to give to children so without strong supplementation of content based facts, they will never achieve comprehension of math.

Non-Math Items of Interest

For those of you that missed or never even hear about Glenn Beck's CNN special on radical Islam and the threat Iran poses to Israel, the U.S. and the rest of the world, you simply must watch this free video.  It's been uploaded to YouTube which could be removed any time so try to watch it soon. This will help you understand the real threat the Middle East poses to America.

For those of you with daughters, you need to show them this amazing transformation from a girl off the street to how she gets *made up* and photoshoped to appear on a billboard. This is from a campaign by Dove to help girls have better self-esteem and understand that what the media portrays is a false reality. According to Dove's site, 67% of all women age 15-64 avoid normal daily activity because they feel bad about their looks. They are comparing themselves to faked pictures in the media. Please pass this on.

The Watchmaker Video
If you haven't seen this yet, just watch it with your kids and enjoy the short story about the creator.

Weekly Comic

Archive: http://www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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