Welcome to Mrs. Abel's Math Class Website.
For assignments and handouts, please click on one of the links above. For class routine and syllabus information, click below:
General Principles to Ace Math Class
1. Do the homework problems.
Despite the fact that most of the focus of high school instruction is in the classroom, most of the learning takes place when you do your homework problems. If you master the homework problems, then you will be able to do the exam problems too. Follow this plan:
-- When working on your problem, first write what you are trying to solve. This will make your homework more meaningful when we go over it in class.
-- Second, write the formulas in symbols before making number substitutions. This is called ‘rehearsal’ and will help you memorize those formulas.
-- Read your notation aloud to yourself as you write. Later on you will be able to remember the meaning of what you are writing.
-- If you get stuck, look for an example in the book or in your notes that looks sort of similar.
-- See if what is done in the example works for your problem. Most of the time it will. If not, use the internet, especially if you were absent the day of the lesson. Search for the section's title and the word "video". For example, "Matrix Multiplication Video" will bring up a plethora of you-tube recordings that teach that very topic.
Even if you have to solve unassigned problems, repeat this process until you don’t need to look at the example any more. Make sure to use correct notation (especially if it is new) and write in complete math sentences (equations). You now know how to solve these problems.
2. If you need help, don't procrastinate! Get help early enough to practice on your own before test day.
-- First, see the sharp people in the class. Get at least three phone numbers, and don’t just call a friend who can only commiserate with you; choose someone who can explain the problem. It’s actually good for them too because there is no better way to really learn something than having to explain it to somebody else. And remember, don’t ask for the answer, and don’t just ask for the steps, but ask for the explanation. Understanding WHY it works will help you remember HOW it works.
--Second, see your teacher. Unfortunately you may have to share that time with other students, so plan ahead. To get the most out of your time with your teacher, come in well prepared. Write down questions on sticky notes or in the margins of your homework and class notes. Just a plain “I don’t get it” may not get the specific explanation you need.
3. Ask questions in class.
Many students would rather not ask questions for fear of looking foolish. In fact, the vast majority of students feel this way.
Coincidentally, the vast majority of students do not get A’s. In fact asking questions will never get you in trouble, and you are doing a favor for the other students who are wondering the same thing.
--Would you please work through problem number 5 so I can find my mistake?
-- I am not sure how to get started on problem number 22.
--How do you know when to use …?
--What is the relationship between …?
--Would you explain the part about … again, please?
Questions not to ask:
Will this be on the test? The translation of this question is “Do I have to learn this?” I can tell you the answer right now,
even for someone else’s class, yes you need to learn this, and yes, it will probably be on the test.
When is this period over? This question convinces your teacher that you couldn’t care less about the material in the
course, and that you can hardly wait to leave. Even if this is your true feeling, please don’t hurt my feelings by letting me
Is this good for anything? Or When are we ever going to use this? Every branch of math has a phenomenal array of applications. While there may be some specific applications that you personally will never use, many of
them will be handy in the future. Either way, you will definitely benefit from practicing pattern recognition and mathematical thinking.
4. Study. Ok, but how?
First, go over the assigned problems from previous homework. Keep a list of all the problems you have been given.
This is easy in my class, since you get a printed homework handout. Pick one or more representative problems from each section to rework, making sure you can get the correct answer. Do this with all the material; it is true in my class and almost always true elsewhere that if you have mastered the assigned homework, you will do well on the exam.
Practice under exam conditions. It’s easy to think you understand the material better than you really do!
You can fool yourself into thinking you can solve a problem when you are looking at the answer book or at a worked-out solution. Then when the exam comes around, your mind is a blank without the example to follow. Test your knowledge of
a topic by working through exercises with a time limit and without looking at your text or notes. At the end, check your answers. If you can’t do the problems under these conditions, go back to the examples in your text and work more exercises until you can do them without looking to your book for help. The SAT, the AP test, college placement tests and every other standardized test has a time limit, and so will all tests and quizzes given in my course.
5. Avoid the dark side. Almost without exception, cheating does not lead to higher grades. You might be able to
squeak through one problem here or there, but pretty soon you will be in the middle of material that depends on previously covered concepts. Your familiarity with the previous material will be what you glimpsed on your neighbor’s test during the last exam, and let’s face it, a “16” half covered by a hand is not enough background on square roots to understand fraction exponents. Cheating really is high risk with no reward and is more likely to flush you down the tubes than to help you.