Welcome to the information page for STRONGER: Math Lab and Math AGain in the eighth grade at East Tipp. Many of the questions that kids and parents have about the project are listed for you below. If you have a question that's not covered by the material on this page, let Rice know about it. 
With the exception of the advanced kids who take it in middle school, every freshman at Harrison will take Algebra I. The eighthgrade year, then, is a prealgebra year. It's a last chance to look at some basic skills that kids have been practicing for a few years combined with a first chance to see some algebra material before high school. For most kids, this type of curriculum hits them at pretty much the exact level for which they're ready. For other kids, though, a year of prealgebra is tough. And that's usually because seventh grade math was tough ... and maybe sixth grade math before that. The trouble may have started because of a long illness, because being weak at one skill (for example, working with fractions) caused trouble with other new skills, or because it just took a little more time to get good at things than the rest of the class was able to spend. Whatever the reason, it's important to note that troubles in math tend to snowball ... and, by eighth grade, kids are running out of time for just "hoping" that things get better. Math Lab and Math AGain are our attempts to help those problems in a daily homeroom or additional class period. We hope that if we can get these kids some more routine exposure to and practice with some of the concepts they're struggling with, they can go into high school a lot stronger. Just like in building physical muscle, we don't grow by ignoring the weaknesses ... we instead get strong when we attack and overwhelm them. So that's what we're going to do.
One last note concerning Math Lab specifically: lab has been designed to give a little extra math practice to a few students who want to get stronger.
In my lab, these could be prealgebra, algebra, or geometry students ... so if someone tells you that only the lowestachieving kids
in the school are in math lab, they're absolutely wrong. It is just a collection of kids who are working daily to get better;
you should be proud to be among them.

In order to determine which kids would be the best fits for these programs, we look at your past performance on a few things. We check your latest ISTEP scores, since that tells the State's opinion of your ability; we check your latest classroom grades, since that tells East Tipp's opinion of your ability; we also check your latest homework scores, since that gives at least some indication of the kind of effort you are putting into your work on a daily basis.
Depending on your scores in those three categories, you might get a letter like this one.
The purpose of the letter is to explain to candidates exactly where we found their weaknesses and how serious they are. As you can
see in the letter, kids who score above five are highly encouraged to participate in one of these programs.

Yep. In the section above, you read about the point system that helps identify kids for these programs. It's also important to note that parents and school personnel have 'magical subtraction power' for these evidence points. It could be that one of these adults knows that you're already going to afterschool tutoring, that there was some sort of circumstance that contributed to a lessthan trustworthy score for you, or something else that makes your situation nonstandard. In those types of cases, we'll have a talk about your specific situation and figure it out together. By the way, parents, school personnel, and students have 'magical addition power' in the point system. If you don't qualify for an invitation to Math Lab or Math AGain, but someone thinks it would be a good idea anyway, we'll definitely take a look at it. As long as we've got space, you can believe that East Tipp is NOT going to stand in the way of kids who want to get stronger.
Finally, if we find that your overall homework grade in regular math class falls below 50%,
it's pretty clear that you just plain aren't getting enough practice to help yourself get stronger. In order
to fill that hole that you are creating, you'll be moved to Math Lab right away. When the grade goes back up past 50%,
we'll get you back to your regular schedule.

At the end of every quarter of the school year, we'll do a checkup with the same worksheet that we use to enroll kids. When scores go below six, we'll move kids out; when scores stay above five, we'll keep at it. The magical addition and subtraction powers are still in place. We'll only do that checkup at the end of each quarter. Making changes in class rosters more frequently than that puts a burden on the rest of the school in terms of scheduling ... and doesn't give you much time to get into a groove.
If you happen to be a kid who volunteered himself into Math Lab, you can totally volunteer yourself out at the quarter if you think that's best.

East Tipp's first idea for extra practice was Math Lab: trading your regular homeroom for a homeroom period of working on math skills. When the school started also offering this practice in its own separate class period, it became known as Math AGain. I chose that name because I think that's how some kids will look at it: "Oh, no ... math again!" But did you notice that I capitalized the G? That's because I'm hoping that you'll change how you remember your time here from "Oh, no ... math again!" to "Math: A Gain." (You can think of that as supercheesy if you want, but it honestly is my sincere wish for you in this class.) So the most obvious difference between the two is the timing. Math Lab fits in the space of your homeroom and will meet for twentyfive minutes a day; Math AGain takes the place of one of your classes, and will meet for fortyfive minutes a day. Despite the difference in timing, however, the exercises and routine in each program is the same.
Which one would be best for you? Unfortunately, that's hard to predict on a web page. When the school knows
that you'll need a spot in one or the other, usually the principal and counselor make
a recommendation to you and your family based on what type of student you've been, what your schedule is like, and where we have space.

Whether you are in Math Lab or Math AGain, the routine is the same. You'll be guided through your day by the materials I set up for you in NExT (... that's the set of links available on each assignment in our Canvas course). First, you'll get a preview of what's coming up in class. Through our Canvas course, you'll see what topic is scheduled to be discussed in class next, and then preview that through NExT. Most people prefer to do this by watching the video; you can bring your own earbuds or use the school's headphones. If, instead of watching the video, you'd rather read about the upcoming topic, that's fine ... but if you're in Math AGain, you probably have time to do both. The goal is that when you go to class and I start teaching, you'll already have at least a partial idea of where we're headed that day. You will not believe how much easier that will make your day and how much more what we do in class will stick with you. After you do a preview, you should then do a review. Do the example problems through NExT from the lesson you just learned in class last time you were there. This will help get it into your head even deeper. With the time you have after that, you can make one of two choices. Through NExT, you can either move on to practice the new concept that you've not had in class yet or go back and do more practice with something from the last week or so that still gives you trouble. Each day, you'll probably have an idea of what would be best for you to do.
And, of course, on days when we have quizzes or tests scheduled for our upcoming regular class time, there won't be any new material for you to preview;
instead you'll work through NExT on things that will prepare you for the quiz or test.

You just read what the class is ... but let me also include a few things that the class is not. This class won't be a study hall for you to do your math homework. While part of these programs is getting your skills up to where you'll be better in regular math class, this time in your schedule is an independent exercise for you. There's not really a need to even bring your homework to class. This class won't be a place where you waste time. There's never any homework here, so I'm asking that you give it your full attention and effort while you're in there. For that reason, you'll be all business every day. That includes ...
While working at Khan Academy, you'll also need to stay away from sections of the site that don't pertain to your daily assignment. While the badges and points are a cool part of the site, you should look at those outside of this time if you're interested in checking them out. You also need to stay out of Khan Academy videos unless they have been specifically prescribed for you through NExT.
In short, I'd love it if you would take advantage of every minute in the class to work to make yourself stronger.

That's you, buddy. Math Lab and Math AGain are largely independent exercises. In either place, you'll be in a class where the teacher is working with a variety of students, off and on, at the same time. Every year, we have some kids who just roll up their sleeves and work ... and every year we have some kids who realize that they can just pretend to work at various points of the period without getting caught. Would you join a gym and then hide in the locker room? That would be a waste of everyone's time, right? Faking your way through Math Lab or Math AGain is just as pointless. While pretending may get you through the day, it's not going to help you much on getting through whatever tomorrow holds for you.
If you see being enrolled in Math Lab or Math AGain as a punishment, I can understand why you might try to pretend your way through it. But honestly, you'll
be a whole lot more successful if you instead see this time as an opportunity.

So maybe it's not a good thing that you need to get stronger, but it is definitely a good thing that you have an opportunity to do so. I'll bet that you know an adult who would love to have twentyfive or fortyfive minutes scheduled into every day to work out at a gym. They wouldn't see it as an obligation; they'd value it as a time to work on their weaknesses. Well, you're in a spot right now where math is becoming a serious enough weakness that it needs some more attention. As you set to work on it here in a new way, keep a couple of points from the gym workout analogy in mind. You won't lose forty pounds in one day. Translation: You won't transform into Einstein overnight. Give it time, and you might notice small improvements on the way to large ones. Working out isn't fun; the results are. Translation: It may not be a lot of fun to work on your weaknesses in math, but you'll certainly enjoy being better at it after you do. If you cut enough corners, you'll be going around in circles. Translation: Don't take shortcuts. Sneaking out your calculator or just guessing answers doesn't do a thing to make you stronger. You don't do it for the trainer; you do it for you. Translation: In the end, the work you do here isn't for your parents or your teacher ... it's all for you. Give it to yourself. No pain, no gain. Translation: If being good at math were easy for everybody, Rice would be out of a job. I know it's hard for you. But I also know that you can make some improvements if you put in some good solid work. You can get there. No pain, no AGain.
So, look at this as a daily time set aside for you to get stronger. Giving your best here gets you some success in
the short term and options in the long term. If you haven't thought about it much, those are terrific things to earn for yourself.
I really hope that you're able to take charge and do it. If there's more I can do to help you, please let me know.
