On what passes for good news nowadays

Is this good news? Hell, I don’t know.

We’ve been working on systems of equations in class lately. So, just as a reminder, if I tell you that y = 2x and y = x + 2, you can use those two equations to solve for both X and Y to find out that X is 2 and Y is 4. The process isn’t that important if you don’t remember it. There are three ways my eighth graders are supposed to learn how to do this– graphing, substitution, and elimination, and we’re working on substitution right now and have already covered graphing. I’m going to cover elimination later this week and I’m hellbent on knocking it out in two days because, frankly, it’s just not that damn important by any measure I’m concerned with.

But good news! Today’s assignment is out of 10, with a two-point bonus question that I thought was going to be quite a bit harder, so it’s possible to get up to 10/12 on it. And right now, with twelve minutes of class left in my final period of the day– yes, I’m blogging during school; the kids aren’t talking and if they start I’ll quit doing this– the median score is 12/10 and the average is 10.48, so the average score is actually into the realm of extra credit.

Sounds great, right?

I have 143 students and have only been able to mark 52 present today. But, hey, that’s still a pretty solid average out of the 52 who showed up and did the work!

…Oh, you say only 25 did the assignment? Ah. That’s … well, that’s seventeen and a half percent of my students.

That’s, uh, not as good.

But hey! Out of the third of my kids who bothered to show up to class today, the half who did the assignment did really well!

…except it’s not like the graphing method doesn’t work perfectly well with what are supposed to be substitution equations, and there are websites that they can use that will graph lines for them. I know they know they exist because I’ve used them in class. And that probably explains the bonus question, too … and these two kids in different classes who got this system wrong in the exact same way, which only works if you forget a negative sign on one of the numbers and then graph that

So I really have no evidence of any kind that any but the tiniest handful of my kids who have worked through stuff with their cameras and microphones on have any understanding of how to do this.

But hey! Those three kids! They’ve got it!

I take my wins where I can find them nowadays, I guess.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.