Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
- Bob Dylan
Well Bob, 50 years later, your words still ring true.
I intentionally asked to proctor the PSAT Wednesday October 14. I wanted to see our students in action.
Derek Green, sophomore, was sitting in the front of the room. I was pleased to see Derek working backwards in one of the multiple choice questions. He worked from the answer back to the question.
is a problem that is solved by factoring out the GCF by grouping terms together. In Algebra 1 we call it factoring by grouping. This is a particularly difficult one because you must use the factoring by grouping technique twice. The answer (of course) is . Derek multiplied the binomials in the answer together to prove that it was equivalent to the original problem.
Of course as a math teacher, I was focused on the last two sections of the PSAT, but it was interesting to see how many graphs and charts were in the first two sections (technical reading). I observed a real shift in emphasis by the College Board. There were very few problems in sections 3 and 4 where a student was asked to graph a line in the form , solve a system of two equations and two unknowns by elimination, or solve a linear inequality.
In over half of the problems, they were asked use their mathematical skills in context (these are not the actual problems):
As Ignatian educators we must adapt to our ever changing world. The new PSAT, ACT, and SAT call us to refocus our teaching techniques to emphasize a problem solving approach. Sure, we must still teach the fundamental processes of solving linear equations, graphing linear equations in two variables, factoring polynomials, the quadratic formula, and the laws of exponents. Creating meaningful, challenging, and interdisciplinary problems for our students must be the goal of our STEAM initiatives.
FOR THE TIMES… THEY ARE A CHANGIN’