Parents: How to help your student

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How Can I Tell How My Student Is Doing?

You should not need to see a midterm progress report to know how your student is doing at any time in my classes.

I require 3 pieces of evidence in your student’s notebook that you should be able to evaluate without knowing any hard math.

  1. Daily notes, dated and in order. You should see notes from every day except test days, usually Monday through Thursday. Notes should be at least a full page daily, including classroom work.
  2. Daily homework, dated and in order. You should see homework every day except test days and the day before a test, usually Monday through Wednesday. Homework should show evidence of calculation (including diagrams), else it might well be copied. None of the students can do it all in their heads, and they are required to show the work. Homework assignments are posted on my wiki at:,, or
  3. Tests, dated and in order. You should see a test almost every week, usually on Fridays but sometimes on other days. There are approximately 5 or 6 tests per term.

How Can My Child Do Better?

The most common problems and solutions are:

  1. If there is anything missing from the notebook, you should probably talk to your child about getting the work done. Nobody can learn math without working at it, and I can’t get 150 students to work except by encouragement and grading. As a parent, you can do significantly more to motivate your student.
  2. Make sure your student gets a decent night’s sleep. It’s hard to be focused or motivated when you’re dozing off in class. In class, I gently wake up and tease the sleeping students (and then often guide them through answering questions.) But only the family can make sure they get enough sleep.
  3. Make sure your student studies adequately before tests, if not every night. It is shocking to me how few students actually study before a test and how little they try to understand. There’s no time for studying in the classroom, but I do offer study time after school the day before tests. A good student can get much better by tutoring others.
  4. A very few students have difficulty even when they are working properly. They might need remedial work or one-on-one attention. BLS provides free tutoring from top senior students. Contact Mr. Giordano at the Schwabel Center above the library for Saturday Success School and tutors. And students can make appointments with me for help on an occasional basis. With 150 students, I cannot tutor regularly beside the day before tests.
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