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Parents learn about new math curriculum

Approximately 50 parents went back to math class last week during Thomson High School's Math Night.

Assistant Principal Lynn Cato said the purpose of the event was to explain the changes in the state's math curriculum and graduation requirements.

"Tenth-graders are doing this year some of the same stuff our seniors are doing. It's very rigorous, as you can imagine."

In the past, Algebra I was taught in ninth grade, followed by geometry in 10th grade.

The new Georgia curriculum, called Georgia Performance Standards, combines algebra, geometry and statistics in both ninth and 10th grades.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Barry O'Neill said in a previous interview that Georgia is the only state to implement this teaching of math.

A survey of parents at the high school showed they wanted more information on the new math, Ms. Cato said.

At the Oct. 27 event, Ms. Cato explained the new math requirements for graduation. Parents then attended 15-minute "breakout sessions" in each math classroom, where teachers discussed the old curriculum vs. the new, performance tasks, support classes, credit recovery and how parents can help.

Thomson High School math teacher Michael Williams says parents can help their child pass math, even if they don't remember how to do the work.

-- Make sure your child sleeps the night before. Mr. Williams said many students fall asleep within the first two or three minutes of class.

"So it's not the lesson that's boring them," he said. "They are honest and say they were up all night texting on the phone or on MySpace."

-- Make sure homework is done the same day the lesson was taught, so the information is still fresh.

"Don't just ask them if they did it, require them to show it to you," Mr. Williams said. "If they don't practice, then they're not going to understand what they're learning."

-- Keep a positive attitude. A parent's attitude does a lot for the student. If the parent says math is difficult or unimportant, the child thinks that way, too.

"Don't translate negativity to your child," Mr. Williams said.

-- Stay informed of upcoming tests and projects and whether your child is attending class.

Mr. Williams said a lot of students who drive themselves to school don't make it to math class. They can quickly get behind by missing only one day.

He also said the students act surprised about a test or quiz, but "pop" tests are rarely given, so the students do know ahead of time.

Mr. Williams also urged parents to arrange for an in-class visit.

"Parents are really involved with their kids in elementary school," he said.

"But by the time they get to high school, the parents think they don't want to embarrass the child. But the child is still immature and needs the parents to be involved," he said.

-- Stay connected.

"From time to time, kids need help with their homework. However, in many cases, it's been over 20 years since the parents have completed algebra and they have long forgotten the difference between a hyperbola and a parabola," Mr. Williams said.

He suggested having your child spend five minutes every day looking at notes from that day, and frequently checking the teachers' Web sites.

Mr. Williams also gave a few Web sites that explain math concepts. He said the best one is

Web posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009

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