Guest Post from Matt

I’m really anxious right now.  My “Math Buddy” is only one day away from taking his Math SOL tests and I feel my own palms getting sweaty.  If you ask Catherine, she’ll tell you that my hands are often sweaty but this is different.  I feel the same way that I did before my two day Certified Financial Plannner (CFP) test – or how I would feel before a big track race.
I started the year with two 4th grade “Math Buddies” but one of them threatened to shoot a kid while on the playground and, well, he’s no longer going to Chimborazo Elementary School.  It still amazes me that a 4th grader would deal with a conflict by saying that he would shoot someone.  This was a really really great kid.  You would have liked him a good bit if you had met him.  Big Smile, he always wanted to sit in the chair closest to me, smart and athletic.
My remaining Math Buddy is also a really good kid, he just didn’t like to eat.  I was about as skinny as a 4th grader comes and this kid would have made me look “healthy”.  He tells me that he doesn’t like breakfast and he ususally just nibbles at the pizza the they serve every Friday.  Don’t get me wrong, the pizza looks dry and crusty but any public school graduate has survived on steady diet of such food and lived to tell about it.  A bag of chips was about the only thing I ever saw entirely consumed but you have to pay 75 cents extra for chips so these were only purchased occassionally.
The lack of nutrition didn’t help my Math Buddy’s contentration.  But he is a smart kid.  My problem was that it took me over half way through our curriculem before I realized that this kid had never memorized his times tables.  It takes a long long long time to do any 4th grade math problems if you haven’t memorized your times tables.  Try completing 429 X 23 without using your memorized times tables.  So after nearly wasting three months, I started bribing my Math Buddies with candy for memorizing their times tables.  Yes, it was shameless bribery but it started to work.

This kid never should have been passed through the 3rd grade math without knowing his times tables and I really don’t know that he has a chance at passing his SOL’s this year.  He needs to get 61% of the questions right in order to pass I he’ll be doing well to be right on the cusp as long as he doesn’t rush.  I can’t wait to see the results, I’ve got many lunch hours invested in this kid.  I think I’m even going to say a prayer for his concentration tomorrow at 9am.

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