Making Connections

The other night my husband made a very insightful comment.

I was talking with my 13-year old son about his recent experience at camp. He mentioned a fellow camper who was a student at my school but I don't know (I live in a different district than I teach). He said, "Mom, don't you remember I asked you about if you know [insert student's name here] last year?"

Me: "No."

My son couldn't believe that I didn't remember him mentioning her last year.

And then my husband piped in:  "Your mom doesn't remember things unless she can make a connection with it. If it doesn't apply to her, she doesn't remember it."

I don't usually agree with my husband, but this time he was exactly right.  I don't remember things unless I can make a personal connection with it. I have trouble remembering my closest friend's siblings' names but I know what high school my daughter's friend's mom went to because we played them one time in a big game and we've chatted about it.

And yet here I am, expecting kids to remember every little tiny rule that I talk to them about. Why can't they remember how to find the vertex of a parabola in standard form? Or the process of completing the square?

Because I haven't helped them make connections. I realize that not every math concept is going to have a real-world connection, but to show students the connections between topics would help them internalize and create a flow of information as they're working.

So that's my goal this year. If I can't make the math personal to each student, I at least want to help them connect topic to topic to hopefully make them stick.