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parent letter for algebra class

August 24th, 2020


Dear Parents/Guardians,

This will be a very different year for all of us, no matter if you and your child chose face-to-face learning or virtual learning. Despite this, I feel very confident that it will be a good year and your child will learn a lot in algebra! We will all have to be very flexible and communicate. I will encourage your child to advocate for themselves about their learning, questions about their learning and their grades. I want to encourage you to reach out to me (as I will to you) if there is something else you have a question or concern about.

Cornerstone is now on a nine-week schedule (four grading periods per school year). Your child will take an algebra CESIT class just during the first grading period, so s/he will have algebra twice a day (once we get to the second nine weeks, s/he will only have algebra during core – not during CESIT). The reason for the algebra CESIT is because your child skipped a year and a half of math and there are some review and basic algebra concepts I need to cover for them to be successful during the year. The end of the first nine weeks of school is Friday, October 16th.  A grade below a “B” is a sign that your child has not mastered these concepts and should move to the 7th grade Pre-AP math class.  Even a “B” the first nine weeks is cause for a little concern, due to the increasingly more difficult concepts as the year progresses.  Below is a list of things to think about when your child is in the 7th grade Algebra class.

  • Algebra I is the foundation course for all higher level math courses.  It is assumed that your child has learned and maintained basic arithmetic/pre-algebra skills.  In order to be successful in Algebra he/she needs to have a strong foundation in the math skills which were learned in previous years.
  • Algebra curriculum is fast-paced; we also need to cover 7th grade concepts.   There’s not much time for repetition.
  • It’s not all about intelligence—it’s all about “readiness” for taking this course at this time… (The leap from concrete to abstract thinking occurs off and on between 7th and 10th grades.  One can’t make oneself be ready before one is ready for abstract thinking!)
  • This is not a “remedial honors” course—if it takes a tutor to stay in, your child is not ready yet.  Your child may need additional help on occasion, which is strongly encouraged, but a consistent tutor should not be needed to just get through the class.
  • A strong work ethic is a must!!  It takes a tremendous amount of tenacity and perseverance to continue when you get stuck and don’t understand a concept.  Your child must seek out help if s/he needs it – from me, a classmate or from someone at home.
  • If your child takes Algebra I in 7th grade and continues the advanced curriculum in high school, he/she will take Calculus their junior or senior year.  This is for kids who have a high interest in math or science related areas… if it’s not their passion, why do it?

Please take some time to talk with your child about the thoughts listed above. Again, if your child has a grade below 80% the first grading period (or on the test at the end of the grading period) it is a good sign he/she has not mastered the prerequisite concepts for Algebra I and will need to move to the 7th grade Pre-AP class.  Only students who meet the following requirements will move on to Geometry next year: a 90% or above year average in Algebra I, and a 90% or above on the final exam in May.  I will be contacting you prior to the end of the grading period if your child’s grade is below an eighty percent.  Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or questions.

You are not required to purchase a graphing calculator for your student for algebra 1, but some parents/students go ahead and do it now. We will definitely be using them. I have graphing calculators in the classroom that they are welcome to use. I feel strongly about teaching students to solve algebra concepts in multiple ways: multiple ways algebraically and multiple ways with the graphing calculator. This is their first high school credit math class and they will need one for all their future math classes in high school and college, as well as the SAT/ACT tests. If you decide to purchase one this year I would recommend one from Texas Instruments. There are a variety to choose from. All of the following are graphing calculators that are on the approved list to use for standardized tests.

These three have very similar buttons and functions and would be easy for your child to follow what we are doing in class:

TI 89 Titanium

TI 84 Plus (there are multiple editions)

TI 83 Plus

This one is a very nice calculator but it is extremely different. It would require that your child do quite a bit of research and learning on their own:

TI Nspire

This website tells you more about the Texas Instruments products.

I look forward to a great year in algebra this year. Your child will learn a lot – about algebra, problem solving and how they deal with challenges. It is always fun to see their growth during this school year.



Jessica Hennig

[email protected]

(713) 251-1600

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