September 17, 2011

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Monthly review: June, July, and August 2011

Oh dear. This is turning into a quarterly thing, which tells me that I need to figure out what I want out of these monthly reviews and how I’m going to distinguish them from my weekly reviews.

In monthly reviews, I want to evaluate my projects and reflect on any trends. It’s not easy to get that kind of perspective weekly, and a year is too long a time to wait. That’s what my monthly reviews should be, I think.

In my May monthly review, I wrote:

I’m looking forward to lots of gardening, lots of biking, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Some of my friends are getting married – hooray! Work is ramping up, too. Back on the development track, making useful websites… Yay!

This summer had much less gardening and biking than I would’ve expected. The flood of vegetables from the community-supported agriculture program meant that I didn’t really feel like growing more. I worked on development projects with global team members, so I stayed home instead of biking into the office. Fortunately, friends’ marriage plans went on exactly as expected. =)

September is all about preparation. We’re preparing for an upcoming trip, work projects, and personal projects. Winter’s coming, too. There’s so much to get ready. If I stop and think about it, I’ll feel overwhelmed, but bite-sized chunks will get me through it. Here we go!

Back to school, back to study groups

We started our first study group session on Friday with a quick review of multiplication. J- and V- warmed up by reciting the multiples of 6 to 9. Good retention from last year, and we’ll see how practice helps them improve. After the warm-up, we went over a shuffled deck of multiplication flashcards.

The teachers had given them a quiz in school, so we covered some of the topics they found confusing. W- and I explained the difference between convex and concave shapes using angles and lines. I drew different figures and quizzed them on the classifications. J- and V- drew their own figures, and they classified them together.

Squares and square roots were another point of confusion. We started off with a graphical review of what squaring means, and what a square root is. I used a tip from John Mighton’s “The Myth of Ability”: I tweaked my exercise to vary in scale without varying in difficulty. (What’s the square root of 31337 x 31337?) After J- and V- understood the relationship between squares and square roots, we covered approximation and factorization as ways of finding the square root. J- and V- practised finding the square root of numbers like 225 and 144.

We’ve encouraged them to take notes so that it’s easier to review lessons. The extra study group time will definitely help, too. Grade 8 will help students learn how to solve real-life problems, so we’ll be sure to show more of the calculations of everyday life. Here we go!