A Nice Story About Graphing And Confidence

August 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

Last week was the first week of class for my intermediate algebra class. I am sure you are not surprised that many of the students were short on confidence and long on anxiety. One student in particular told me stories of experiencing temporary blindness due to stress and anxiety caused by math. Earlier this week she told me that graphing was the most difficult elementary algebra topic for her – she just couldn’t do it.

I am happy to say that she was graphing absolute value functions today faster than almost every student during class today.

What made the difference? While reviewing graphing linear equations, I spent my time explaining the goal (to find two points on the line so we may graph the line passing through them) and discussing the strategy for choosing a graphing technique for a given equation (using intercepts or using slope). Today, while teaching students how to graph absolute value functions by shifting or rotating the graph of f(x) = |x|. She came with an open mind, and was able to conceptually understand the graph of an absolute value function. She understood how to find (h, k), and how to draw the graph from there.

A little confidence and a positive attitude can go a long way.
If you’re an instructor reading this, keep this in mind. If you can reach that one student, you can make a huge difference.
If you’re a student reading this, keep this in mind. Things may seem bleak and your challenges may seem insurmountable, but you CAN do it. Start small and build momentum.
If you’re the student I am discussing, keep up the good work! I am VERY proud of you.

– George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. In addition to my regularly scheduled blogs, I will be sharing stories of student successes. If you have a question or a comment, please let me know. Besides commenting on this blog, you can also reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.

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Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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