Please read through this letter with your student tonight (8/27), verify that your student has a homework assignment sheet, and sign the back page. Your child should return this signed letter to me tomorrow in class.
This will be my eighth year teaching 7th and 8 the grade mathematics at Slavens and my twelfth year in DPS. I received my Bachelors of Architecture and my teaching credential from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and my Masters of Education from Lesley University. I then worked as an architect in San Francisco and Santa Barbara for three years while my wife worked towards her law degree at the University of California at Berkeley. We moved here in September 2001 and I spent my first year in Denver substitute teaching primarily at Colorado Academy. I accepted a permanent position in the Denver Public Schools in August 2002. The four years prior to teaching at Slavens, I taught seventh and eighth grade connected math as well as algebra at Grant Middle School. I still stay active in architecture by teaching an architecture program sponsored by the Denver Architectural Foundation and Slater Paull Architects. Besides my interests in teaching and architecture, I also have a passion for triathlon. I have been competing in the sport since 1991 and raced as a professional from 1999 to 2002. .
Seventh and Eighth Grade Connected Math Program (CMP 2)
In seventh and eighth grade we will be continuing the CMP 2 curriculum, which most of the students have experienced previously. For those of you who are new to this curriculum, CMP is a project-based mathematics program that promotes discovery learning by placing a premium on hands-on activities and problem solving. CMP 2 does include algebra, however, in preparation for the high school placement tests, as well as IB and private school entrance exams, 8th grade students will be expected to complete weekly assignments with more traditional algebra problems so that students have a better chance of receiving high school algebra credit after their eighth grade year and/or getting into the program of their choice. I am excited to tell you that over my seven years at Slavens, approximately 70% of Slavens 8th graders start high school in 10th grade honors geometry.
Slavens Math Blogs
I maintain two classroom blogs, one for each grade. I will post all explanations of homework questions on the blogs as well as class announcements on these blogs. If students choose not to use the blog, they will be missing a significant resource for receiving help. Students (and parents) are able to become followers of the blog, which means that you will receive alerts to new posts. I highly recommend that every student becomes a follower of these blogs. The addresses of the blog sites are:
Although it is my goal to have things posted by 4:30 each day, due to faculty meetings, extra help, coaching obligations, and family responsibilities I can’t guarantee that I will be able to finish all posts by 4:30 and I appreciate your understanding.
Your first line of help is the blogs. I have a library of hundreds of help videos on homework and class work already posted and waiting for you on the blogs. Each unit has a page that can be assessed by the tabs just under the title and the videos are listed by investigation. If you have trouble with your homework look to the blog first. When using the help videos don’t just watch the problem and then do it yourself. You should pause the video after each step and do that step yourself before continuing the video. If you would like help on a problem that isn’t on the blog, then all you need to do is write the problem number on the ‘to be blogged’ board the next day and I will get it up on the blog. While you’re reading this why not go to the site now to check it out.
If after the blog and asking questions in class aren’t enough, then I will suggest coming to extra help. I intend to continue providing extra help one day a week after school from 3:10 - 4:10. During most of the year these help sessions will be on Thursday, however, I am going to be coaching cross country, Mathletics, MathCounts, and flag football so during the first athletic season, help days will change from week to week. I will post the days I am available on the bottom of the homework assignment sheet and on the math blogs. Please check it every two weeks so that you and your student know when help is offered. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow 24 hours for me to respond.
Finally, every year around October several parents ask for referrals for tutors. The vast majority of students will not need tutors to pass my classes, but instead of waiting for crisis to occur I am offering two suggestions if this is something you are interested in. Last year 8 students were seeing a tutor regularly
Professional tutor: Mary Gattuso Chesis 303.587.2309 email@example.com
Former student tutor: Emma Campbell 303.692.9492
It is my intent to give 30 to 45 minutes of CMP homework a night. Some assignments may take more or less time depending on the student. I do not want students to spend more than an hour on math homework a night so if your student has worked for a solid 60 minutes you can stop them and write a note on their homework and still receive full credit.
CMP homework is graded on whether or not you tried it to the best of your ability. CMP homework will be checked in as opposed to graded. If you and/or your child would like to check your answers for the homework if you are getting them right, to are encouraged to either watch the full explanation videos on the blog or read the answer key which is also on the blog. Obviously it would be considered cheating to look at the answers prior to doing the problem.
There will be additional homework assignments that will be turned in and graded for accuracy. The most common of these are the algebra sheets in 8th grade and online Edmodo assignments for 7th grade. These assignments are typically once a week. The algebra will be passed out on either Monday or Tuesday and will be due on Friday.
Final grades are weighted. The categories for 8th grade are tests/quizzes (55%), CMP home work (15%), class work (15%), algebra enrichment (15%). Seventh grade will vary slightly.
I look forward to a great year and please feel free to contact me when appropriate (email is best),