• Marc Whitaker

    Eighth Grade Math


    What do I want for your teens?

    I want your teens to have choices at every stage of life.

    When they graduate from high school, college, trade school, or straight to a job should be a viable choice. When they are thirty, forty or fifty, I want a radical career change to be a viable choice. When they are fifty or sixty or seventy, I want retirement to be a choice. I don’t want to see them make choices today that close doors in the future.


    How do we give kids today choices in the future?

    None of us know what the future will bring, and our kids today don’t know what they’ll want to be doing when they’re forty. Knowing more about more and knowing how to learn more about anything is vital. The world is changing so fast that the only way to keep up and control our own fate is to be flexible.


    How does this class help?

    We live in a quantitative world. 

    “How large?” “How much does it cost?” “How heavy?” “How much can we afford?” “How soon?” “How fast is change happening?”

    Unless we can measure precisely, analyse carefully and predict accurately we’ll never solve the problems we face personally, professionally, and as a society. Solving problems is the point of every meaningful job.

    We will use spreadsheets to analyse climate data, employment data, and various other types of data looking for patterns that can inform our choices.


    How about grades?

    Grades can be overrated. At best, they’re my opinion of a student’s progress based on their performance on tasks I select, I grade, and I weight. The difference between a 92% and a 96% may well be small enough to be meaningless in every important way. Of course, that means the difference between an 88% and a 92% may not be meaningful either.

    The important questions are “How much more can you do now than you could do then?” and “Did you give it your best?”


    Academic Grades: Assignments

    Assignments are designed to practice new skills.


    Assignments are begun and often finished daily in class.


    Late or incomplete work is not acceptable. Finishing last week’s practice next week guarantees a student will not be ready to learn this week’s material.


    Assignments must be completed and accurate (70% or better) to receive credit.


    The assignment average will be 50% of the academic grade.


    Effort Grades:


    I can't see what happens outside my classroom, how much time a student is putting into their education in general or in my class specifically, so I am left to measure effort by counting the number of completed assignments. Each missing assignment will lower a students effort grade for the week.

    Citizenship Grades:

    Citizenship grades are based on how well students follow my three rules:

    Be polite.

    Be prepared.

    Be productive.

    These three seem to cover almost all situations. Computer isn't charged? That's not being prepared. Talking while I'm teaching? That's not polite. Talking when there's work to do? That's not being productive. If I have to correct a student repeatedly, I make a note and it will affect the citizenship grade.

    About me:

    My name’s Marc Whitaker. 

    • I earned a Bachelor's degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics from San Diego State University in 1983. 

    • I worked for the Department of Defence as a programmer and a data analyst before getting my teaching credential in Mathematics and Physics in 1986.

    • I’ve been a teacher in Cajon Valley for 33 years.

    • Both my daughters went to Fuerte, Hillsdale, and Valhalla. My oldest is working on a Master’s in Biology at NAU in Flagstaff. My youngest is a junior studying physics and astronomy at San Diego State.

    • My wife was the Cajon Valley Volunteer of the Year as president of HMDPA, and is now the school nurse at Camp Cuyamaca, AKA Sixth Grade Camp.