Month: July 2013

ACT Math?

Amidst all of the EOC standardized test prep, I don’t often hear about ACT Prep.

HOWEVER, I am teaching an ACT Math (only) Prep course second semester. Our school is on block scheduling, so Geometry is a one semester class and ACT Math is the second semester in the same year. So first semester, it’s 120 minutes every day of Geometry. Ditto for ACT Math second semester.

My question is: how do I make this a useful time, and not just a “filler” class? I’m thinking it needs to be about 2/3 content review (Algebra 1 and Geometry) and 1/3 test-taking strategies.

The whole school (in department-specific workshops) had ACT: Teaching for Success Training with a group called Focus on Learning. This course focused on how to teach math in such a way that students are simultaneously preparing for the ACT. Their quote: “the daily classroom experience is the single most important factor influencing ACT scores”. Here are the 8 general principles Focus on Learning considers will teach students to think mathematically:

1. Make sure instructional objectives emphasize the understanding of principles, not he memorization of procedures. [I thought this was obvious? My favorite bloggers on this subject are Dan Meyer for high school and Chris Danielson for elementary]

2. Make sure homework requires students to extend and apply the concepts being taught in class.

3. Require students to integrate concepts when solving a single problem. [Again, obvious?]

4. Show students more than one way to solve each problem. [Ditto]

5. Teach students to estimate by providing computational landmarks (10%, basic fractions, pi).

6. Teach some lessons inductively.

7. Help students create mental pictures.

8. Allow students to work together whenever possible. [Wait, doesn’t everyone do this?]

Ok, so I’m on board with all of these as how to be a better math teacher (which is obviously easier said than done). It still doesn’t answer my question: what am I supposed to do with ACT Math Prep?