# sMALL vICtORieS

Posted on June 26, 2013

… yesterday was Reasonably Good during the day for battling the distraction demons (we wont’ talk about the “meeting canceled for storms” evening…).   Hoping to get to the production point, at which point Putting The NExt Part Online will be a motivator…

I *think* I’m having a success right now, as well.   We’re at the a + 3 = 7 stage in pre-algebra, where if you’re not SOLID with those integers (and that’s hard if it’s the super-fast summer course), these are tough…

… but I might just have broken things down enough.   Student said that his brain “just shut down” with all the canceling things out and doing things in so many steps.   The Plan:   keep things under the VIsually Overwhelming Threshold.

This will be the verbal explanation, which totally isn’t what it’s about… I focused on the equations, not what I was saying…

3 = b – 3                         … draw a line under the equals sign verticaly to separate the “sides of the equation.”  That equals sign is like a boundary between two totally separate countries… like separating the sides of a balance scale… so that what’s on either side … balances ’cause it’s equals.   Or… it’s two paths to get to the same destination, or… it’s two names for the same thing.   I talked a little about parts and wholes but that’s a context that needs to be built to be effective, I suspect.

Find the side with the variable.

Figure out what happened to that variable and undo it.   (Again, guide the eyes … it’s all about the visual…)   -5 on this side?   Now go to the other side of your equals sign and do -5 under the number on that side, too.

Now draw a big ol’ long line underneath ’cause you’re going to Do Stuff….

the r + 5 – 5   is just R because you *do* have an r… if you didn’t have an r there you’d have to put 0.   Now go over to the other side and execute that side… and voila!

Big clue as to the visual-kinesthetic style of this learner (sorry, pendulum swingers, learning styles *do* exist even if we shouldn’t reconstruct our whole curriculum around that idea):   for the next problem she drew the line under the equals sign and then the long line that goes under the “adding the same thing to both sides” part.   (Yes, this is failing in translation to text… yes, this is a time for The Magic Pen, if I can get it to work but it’s been failing miserably for me — dropping it into the sewer might not have been such a benign act after all.)

But it’s quiet now… time for GIMP!