Minute Math

50 (Monday) + 75 (Tuesday or Wed) + 70 (Wednesday or Thursday) + 50 (Friday) = 245 minutes a week or 4 hours and 5 minutes.

490 minutes every two weeks. (8 hours and 10 minutes)

If a student misses one 70 minute period every other week that’s 70/490 or 14% of the material.

We have 35 weeks a year so that’s 70 times 17 ish weeks or 1190 minutes or 19 hours and 50 minutes of class over the year.

There is no way you can miss almost 20 hours of class and not have your grade suffer.  There is no way you can make up 20 hours of math minutes by doing the homework you missed.  If you do that.

I have 4 students who miss class bi-weekly for our school’s 70 minute counseling group. I am a HUGE HUGE fan of counsling.  I believe students should have access to as much help as we can get them.

I just don’t think they should have to miss class to get.  I think we may be hurting them on their path to high school.

I just don’t know.


7 thoughts on “Minute Math

  1. I agree. Counseling may be important to some students. And if their families agree that it is important maybe it could take place after school. Or at least not during a ‘core’ class. At my school (as at most, I guess) this is free counseling – it’s a great perk. But a kid still needs an education.

    On a similar note, I have some students who have missed 20 + days of school. At this point in the year we have had 120 school days – so that’s about 16% of the school year so far. I think that it belittles what I teach when the system says “You missed 16% of the year but *shrug* go on to the next grade” Like I show movies 16% of the time, or do busy work 16% of the time. NOT!!!


  2. I agree. I agree. I agree. …. but

    Life is bigger than your math class. I know your life isn’t 😉 because mine isn’t either. Remember, you are educating children. Mathematics is the shared joy through which you are doing so.

    Even if you determined your primary mission as a math teacher is to prepare kids to pass a math test, I predict that a healthy & happy kid will do better than one who struggled with life while in your class every assigned minute of the day.

    FYI: coverage does not ensure higher test scores

    “On average, the U.S. curriculum omits only 17 percent of the TIMSS grade 4 topics compared with an average omission rate of 40 percent for the 11 comparison countries. The United States covers all but 2 percent of the TIMSS topics through grade 8 compared with a 25 percent noncoverage rate in the other countries. High-scoring Hong Kong’s curriculum omits 48 percent of the TIMSS items through grade 4, and 18 percent through grade 8.” (Ginsburg et al., 2005, p. 22)


    1. “Even if you determined your primary mission as a math teacher is to prepare kids to pass a math test, I predict that a healthy & happy kid will do better than one who struggled with life while in your class every assigned minute of the day.”

      I don’t think that’s my primary mission. not even a little bit. and you gotta know me well enough to know that.

      I also don’t think 70 minutes of group therapy every other week is going to create an environment where a student gets to the point of being “healthy and happy” from so distract they can’t focus. (It’s possibly my displeasure with this particular group is hard to over come) I hope that being in my class does something for the student also.


  3. For me, the important piece is how the students feel about this experience…when students are being reflective and responsible (ie not just saying “yeah, i like missing class), how do they really feel about missing this class? Is it stressing them out and inadvertently canceling out some of the positive effects of counseling? On the other hand, is this biweekly meeting keeping them more focused (or there) for the days that they are in your class. The problem I see with your “calculations” is that students aren’t robots and their efficiency/learning is not just a factor of time.


    1. If I thought that being in group was helping with focus in class then yea and I really do let them go almost all of the time. My main thing is that if I’m not asking them to do a lot of homework (which I’m not) and they are missing math and they are already failing math I am not sure that they can make up the work they miss unless they are really serious about it. My students instead use group as a get out of class free card complete with no make up work.

      It’s fair that students are not robots but there is without a doubt a correlation between the time spent in class and the math learned. If not then I am doing something wrong.


  4. @abrandnewline Interesting discussion and I wanted to respond to your comment, “My students instead use group as a get out of class free card complete with no make up work.” I know there’s no guarantee that it will amount to anything productive, but I think it makes sense to talk to their counselor if you think it is being abused. At the very least, I think it would be interesting to hear the counselor’s viewpoint.

    I would also call the parents and offer to work with the students before or after school to help their child try to at least pass the course. Or to help the parents accept that their child may have to retake the class come the summer. Because unfortunately, the learning in class will continue regardless of whether they are absent.

    Paul Hawking
    The Challenge of Teaching Math
    Latest post:
    UPDATED Virtual Library of Review Games (3/3/11)


  5. I just want to make it clear that I think group is very important in lots of cases. I think that there are times when it is necessary but I really believe that group and the group leader should work in conjunction with school. The leader where I am does not and is often disrespectful about the teachers to the students. He creates an environment that looks for problems in the school.

    Do I think he does good things? yes. Do I think some of my students need to go to group? yes. I just think that class time is important, too and I do important things, too not just for math but also for their lives.

    Also, I have talked to him several times and he has a habit of nodding to my face and then saying things to the students behind my back. It is hard to be positive about a program run by someone like that.


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