Welcome Letter

welcome to middle school

Hello! My name is Jacklyn VanOoyik and I will be your child’s math teacher. This is my 6th year teaching math and my 4th year at Mountain Ridge. I am a Colorado Native, growing up in Parker. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma, my Master’s degree at the University of Denver, and I am starting my Doctorate in Math Education at DU this fall! I really love school. In my free time, I am assistant cheerleading coach at Mountain Vista, I enjoy watching football (Broncos and Sooners), hanging out with my family, skiing, and reading/relaxing when I have the time. I am so excited to get to know your kids this year!!

what math class should

Middle schoolers are at a variety of levels. The math department has a great system to assess students’ readiness in math. Just because students aren’t ready now, doesn’t mean that they won’t be successful in math throughout their school career.  In fact, they will be stronger math students in the future if they take their time! My opinion is that students should not be pushed into higher levels of math before they are ready for it. Also, since the math standards have shifted to the Common Core, students learn Algebra earlier than before. In 8th grade, students will be learning most of linear algebra, which was traditionally saved until the Algebra 1 class. For more information: “Algebra: Not ‘If’ but ‘When'”

classroom structure

My math class is may be a different structure than what you have seen in your child’s elementary school, and it is definitely different than what you probably experienced in school yourself. Students will be spending most of class time problem solving and figuring out their own ways to approach a new problem. This helps them think like a mathematician and will improve their overall math skills. Students will develop skills of asking their own questions, working as a group, and communicating their thinking. After students problem solve, we go through the problem, take notes, and practice. The goal is to send students home with a toolbox of strategies to use. I do not use a textbook in my class; however, their notebook will have plenty of resources to support their learning.

homework

It is expected that students complete 30 minutes of homework five times a week. Homework will not be collected each day but I will be checking with students frequently to make sure they are progressing with what we are learning. Students will track their own progress and get feedback on their performance. Homework will be online as well as important notes from the day. Homework may take the form of worksheets, activities with family, online practice or games, or real world tasks. Rarely will students come home with “no homework”. Most of the time, I put the answers to the homework online. Please reiterate that this is a way to check their own progress, and not as a way to cheat.

homework tips

  • The best way you can support students is by reviewing notes with them and not re-teaching the lesson or doing the problems in the way you learned. I provide a variety of different ways to solve a problem, but some methods don’t help build algebra understanding (like cross-multiplication to solve a proportion problem) and therefore, they are not methods I use to teach in class. Shortcuts don’t always help.
  • When students get frustrated, the best thing to do is to stop their math homework for the night. Students should push themselves but not to the point of tears or frustration. I remember many of these nights with my dad when I was in middle school myself. If students do get stuck, the best thing to do is have them write down specific questions about the problem or notes and come in before school the next day. I get to school at 6:45 every morning and am always available to help. Your child’s grade will never be affected if they are attempting their homework. Some examples of good questions to write are:
    1. In the example problem, what step did you take here?
    2. In order of operations, why does subtraction sometimes come before addition?
    3. I am getting stuck finding the unit rate, am I dividing correctly?
    4. How can I check my answer in this problem?
  • I really want students to take the initiative to come in and ask questions when they have them. Please encourage your students to do this. I am always available to help! This is a great skill that students will need going into high school.
  • The best thing for your middle schooler is to reward/praise hard work and persisting through new challenges and not their ability, correct answers, or grades.

grades and feedback

Research shows that students learn, grow, and respond better with consistent feedback rather than grades. I will focus heavily on feedback in my class this year. Students will receive verbal feedback during class, written feedback on assignments and check-ins. Students will be tracking their progress, and it will be their assignment and responsibility to show you their progress on a weekly basis. The Middle School Grading Policy (used at Mountain Ridge) is as follows: 4: exceeding expectations (student went above and beyond what was expected of them) 3: students met expectations (the student did exactly what is expected of them) 2: student did not meet expectations… yet. 1: students are inconsistently meeting expectations, or turn in incomplete work. This will not fit with an A,B,C,D,F grading scale.

tests quizzes

Quizzes will be given every Friday. Tests will be a mix of individual and partner or group. The purpose of partner and group tests is to challenge students to use their math skills to solve problems. In the real world, problems are rarely solved by an individual, it mostly is done as a group effort. Students will always have the opportunity for retakes and redos with all assignments. Sometimes, it takes a little longer to pick up the concepts. That is ok! To help students learn and test what they have learned, students will be completing projects to apply their knowledge. I try to make my projects as applicable to problems they would encounter in the real world and applicable to things they are interested in.

If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time. My goal this year is to keep you posted weekly on what is going on in class and fun things that are happening! This year will be challenging for your students but I hope that they will learn a lot!

Grit Video

You’re Not Bad At Math Video

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