Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Information about Mr. Fisch's Algebra Class

Below is the content of the email I sent out to parents in June in case you need to reference it.

Thanks so much for your time on the phone today. If you could please reply to this email so that I know I’ve got your address correct, that would be great. Also, if you have any kind of “whitelist” in your email program that only allows approved email addresses to get to your inbox, please add my email address.

I want to share a few things with you about my Algebra class now, and then you can expect another email around the first week of August that will give you some more information as well as some information I’ll ask you to share with your student. As I mentioned on the phone, there are many reasons why broadband access to the Internet is going to be very helpful for your student, but two of the most important are access to some video instruction and access to pre-assessments that your student will take before formal assessments. If you’re interested, here are examples of the videos and of the pre-assessments.

The AHS Math Department has created a Math Skills Assessment that all incoming freshmen need to complete in order to prepare them to be successful in mathematics at AHS. Even if your student is not a freshmen, they should complete this skills assessment and work on any skills they are having difficulty with. Our first formal assessment will be within the first few days of school over these skills. Students who are still struggling with these skills will then need to devote extra time - and their unscheduled hours - to master these skills in the first few weeks of school. Since those first few weeks are both exciting and extremely busy, it would be much better to use some of their time during the summer when things are more relaxed to make sure they have mastered these pre-algebra skills.

While you obviously don’t need to go shopping just yet, I wanted to share the materials your student will need for my class now. That way if you come across any great sales you can purchase early, and perhaps you might just want to purchase early since back-to-school time can be pretty busy and stressful for a lot of folks. Here’s what your student will need for my class:
  1. 3-Ring Binder - Probably a 1-inch binder will do. If your student sometimes has difficulty keeping things neat and organized, you might consider the Trapper Keeper-style binders that are “wraparound” so that papers don’t get torn, but they aren’t necessary.

  2. Notebook Paper - Your student will be taking notes, working problems, and sketching diagrams on a daily basis.

  3. Graph Paper - This is Algebra, so graph paper is a must. Probably about 100 sheets would be a good amount to start with.

  4. Writing Utensils - The old standby #2 pencil is going to come in handy. Some students will also find either colored pencils or pens (like those 4-color pens) handy in order to better take notes and illustrate their thinking.

  5. Calculator - The only requirement is that your student have a calculator of some sort. Our recommendation is that they consider getting a graphing calculator (TI-84 or TI-Nspire). We will be using graphing calculators in Algebra I to explore multiple representations of data and equations, and if your student eventually takes Algebra II (which most students at AHS do), they will definitely need a graphing calculator. We’ve also found that graphing calculators help in another important way - students can see what they’ve typed in for calculations - which helps tremendously in identifying errors in their thinking or simply in how they enter the calculations into the calculator. But, to be clear, you are not required to get a graphing calculator.

    If your student will be bringing a laptop or netbook computer to school (also not required,
    read more about laptops at AHS, but many students are finding them helpful), you might consider purchasing the software equivalent of a TI Nspire graphing calculator. For about the same price as an Nspire calculator, your student would be able to just carry one device (the laptop/netbook), have all the capability of the calculator, and have the added advantage of a full keyboard and processing power of the laptop/netbook. Please note that Nspire runs on Windows and Mac OS X, but does not currently run on Linux operating systems.

  6. Optional USB Flash Drive - For all of their classes, a USB flash drive will come in handy at times for students to transport files among various computers.

I’m hopeful that you find this information helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know. Even if you don’t have any questions, please reply to this email so that I know I have your correct email address, and then expect another email from me around the first week of August. Thanks for your time and I’m looking forward to having your student in my class this fall.


Karl Fisch
Arapahoe High School

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