Reviewing is just a part of math, right?
When I was teaching Algebra 2 at a public high school, the entire first semester was spent reviewing what should have been learned during Algebra 1. I am sure that when you look back on your traditional math classes, this was probably a large part of your experience as well. In fact, Saxon even lovingly refers to this constant review as the “spiral method”.
Doesn’t this seem sometimes like a waste of time? Well, when the focus of math is on memorization of another person’s method, then review is necessary because the information that is obtained never really connects in the student’s mind.
However, when students discover their methods for themselves, they are much less likely to forget. Now, I am definitely not saying that they won’t forget. If a theorem is not used for a long time, it is a natural thing for students to forget. We just need to remember to always focus on their ability to think and problem solve. Then, even if they do forget and need a refresher, they will have complete confidence in their ability to figure it out again.
So what are some ways to help our students if or when they may need a little refresher?
First, it is always a good idea to have a physical copy (or digital access) of your student’s discoveries (aka theorems) on hand. This will allow them to look back at their own ideas and discoveries when they need a refresher.
Second, if they are still unsure after looking back over their old theorems, have them rediscover. It is worth the time! Remember that our goal is not just the acquisition of math knowledge, but the ability to problem solve. So if they need to rediscover, that is just another opportunity to practice that important skill.
Finally, it’s ok to practice the theorems that they have previously learned in order to keep them fresh. Just remember to make it fun using games or activities! One way to do this is to have your younger kids, after discovering a theorem, play games using that theorem with their older siblings that already have discovered it. That way, your younger kids are practicing their new theorem while your older kids are reviewing. For a few games and tips on how to do this you can check out one of my posts from a couple of weeks ago HERE…