Middle school math is KILLING me

Posted on March 24, 2016 at 6:00 am

By Gwendolyn Haley

Middle School Math is KILLING me.

It started when our oldest daughter hit 7th grade and started Algebra. During the first open house of middle school, the wise and kind math teacher warned all the parents that “this first semester is a killer.” Truth. I spent one harried evening working on a particularly difficult problem with her and trying to relearn concepts I haven’t used in over 20 years. When her dad got home, he looked over both our work and commented, “I don’t know what you did, but you two came up with completely different answers, and you’re both wrong.” That was the moment when I realized we needed expert help.

Fortunately for my family (and yours!) Spokane County Library District offers free access to Brainfuse HelpNow and free online tutoring every day, from 2pm to 10pm. The tutors are all certified teachers. While we’ve used the online tutors for math, in particular (in fact, that’s the subject most often requested by Spokane County users), the website (or app for Android or iOS platforms) provides access to a host of other homework help, 24/7. You can submit a question anytime and receive a response within 24 hours. The Writing Lab allows students to get real time feedback on their writing process or submit a full paper for more extensive review and comments. During the offline hours, students can access the Skills Building Center to reinforce core concepts, and take practice tests in the Test Center (including the Smarter Balance tests Washington schools administer every spring). Once a student takes a diagnostic quiz, LEAP (the learning platform within HelpNow—stands for learn and prepare with friends) creates a personalized plan to help master academic skills through lessons, quizzes, and live tutoring while tracking the progress made. If your kids like to study with friends, they can use the Collaborative tools to create and share flashcards or other study aids, and even schedule a time to study online together.

Now we have the middle daughter in Algebra while the oldest has moved on to high school and with that Chemistry and Calculus. I can still supervise the kindergartener with math, thankfully. But now when the older girls need help I hand them a library card and learn alongside them.

Gwendolyn Haley

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