Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra

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Tess loves math because it's the one subject she can trust—there's always just one right answer, and it never changes. But then she starts algebra and is introduced to those pesky and mysterious variables, which seem to be everywhere in eighth grade. When even your friends and parents can be variables, how in the world do you find out the right answers to the really important questions, like what to do about a boy you like or whom to tell when someone's done something really bad?

Will Tess's life ever stop changing long enough for her to figure it all out?

Curriculet Details
27 Questions
33 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 7th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining character motivations, inferencing, and realistic fiction. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about conflict and point of view. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of theme, character traits, and plot. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

You probably have a good idea about the type of fiction this novel represents based on the title and the first few paragraphs. You should also realize the time period is present day. Which of the following details best shows that this novel takes place in present times? 
Since Tess thinks about many things in math terms, and she is on the math team, it's pretty safe to infer that she's strong in math. Good readers add up details like this and make inferences. Watch the following video on making inferences. What can you infer about Richard?  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 2

Tess is narrating this novel and she also is a main character. We call this type of narrator a first person narrator. It is important for readers to be able to determine the point of view, or type of narrator, when reading fiction. Watch this video on the different types of point of view.  (This annotation contains a video)
A kiln is an oven made of stone that is used to "fire" ceramics, pottery, and china.  (This annotation contains an image)
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colorless and odorless. It can sometimes accidentally be released when heaters and other machines malfunction. Since it is poisonous and can kill people as they sleep, most fire alarms are also carbon monoxide detectors. 
Artists probably think of things spatially and with images; writers imagine things and use words. Tess thinks of things numerically and in graphs. Which of the three are you most comfortable with---pictures, words, or numbers? 

Chapter 3

Have you noticed that each chapter is titled with a math term? From now on while reading each chapter, try to make the connection to its title. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Describe the two times that Rob misspoke when he spoke with Tess's mom. 

Chapter 4

Here is another example of a tessellation.  (This annotation contains an image)
The death of Rob's wife presents Tess with a real problem that she must confront. Conflict is the essence of fiction: a protagonist struggles with a problem or series of problems and we have the main ingredients for a story. Watch this video on conflict so you can better classify which types of problems Tess faces throughout the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Speaking of problems, Tess seems to have an internal conflict. That's a problem she struggles with within herself. What is Tess's internal conflict? 

Chapter 5

Mr. Wright doesn't literally mean "infinite" when he uses it here. He means it figuratively. The specific type of figurative language he is using is called hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make a point. Watch the video on hyperbole. Then think of how often you use hyperbole in your everyday speech.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain how the Sixth Amendment is connected to this novel so far. Cite evidence from the text to support your response.  

Chapter 6

Since Tess is our narrator, we only get to know her thoughts first hand, and not the thoughts of the other characters. What if we knew what Tess's mother was really thinking? Which of the following is a reason that Tess's mother hasn't gone to the police with her suspicions about Rob? 
Uh-oh. You know what's coming, right? Do you think it is a good idea for Tess to tell her friends about the murder? 
Which of the three girls is the most impractical?  

Chapter 7

Use the Define feature on both Axiom and Theorem. One means something evident and no longer arguable while the other must be proven. Which of the following details must be proved in Nina's death? 
Based on the highlighted passage, which character trait describes Tess? 
With Nina's death as the main conflict and Tess drawn into it, we are in the part of the plot called the "rising action." Watch the video below for a review of all five elements of plot. As you read, try to determine when one part of the plot leads into the next. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 2 

Chapter 8

To claim that the number zero is an "identify thief" is an example of personification. Personification is a type of figurative language that gives human qualities to non-human things. Watch this brief video on personification. See if you recognize the next time the writer uses this type of figurative language. (This annotation contains a video)
Zero can be powerful, just sweet, or __________________. 

Chapter 9

In your own words, explain how this math principle of "y" compares to Lynn. 
Didn't we know that Tess shouldn't have told anyone? 

Chapter 10

A parabola is a two-dimensional and symmetrical curve. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT a true statement? 

Chapter 11

Based on context clues, which of the following words would best replace the word "compulsive"? 
Parallel lines--you remember this from math, don't you?  (This annotation contains an image)
Have you ever had a teacher or met an adult who never wanted to admit that he or she was wrong? It's much more admirable to admit that you make mistakes, just like everyone else. 

Chapter 12

Just in case you don't know what a boomerang looks like, here's a picture. Notice the circular motion. (This annotation contains an image)
Tess is using the boomerang as a metaphor for telling what she shouldn't have told. A boomerang is certainly different from telling a secret, but the writer has craftily made this comparison to emphasize how Tess's mistake comes right back around to her. 

Chapter 13

What point is Tess's dad making in the highlighted sentence? 
Write two different definitions for the word "negative." 

Chapter 14

Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted sentence? 
Marcus Foster Coleman was a famous educator. His picture is below. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 15

Make a prediction here. Do you think Mr. Wright knows about the cheating? Do you think Tess is the one who told? 
Explain the reasoning behind Mr. Wright's statement. Why would a person who stole a test, purposely not get a perfect score? 
So it seems like the major conflict in this novel is resolved. Or maybe not. 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 16

Name two things in this world that can only be imagined and not proven true or false. 
Do you remember earlier when Tess actually graphed out the possible details of Nina's death? 
Clearly, as Tess sees her reflection in the store window, she is reflecting on the recent events in her life. Possibly, she's regretting ever telling Sammy and Miranda about Nina's death. (This annotation contains an image)
There may be a theme emerging in this novel about things not being what they seem and jumping to conclusions. Sometimes in fiction, readers look back to earlier parts in a story to reread and verify details. You may want to look back at Chapter One to reread the scene in the copy room. Before you do, watch this brief video on emerging themes.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is a possible reason why Richard would tell Tess that Luis likes her? 

Chapter 17

Do you understand this property? (This annotation contains an image)
There are two separate conflicts going on in this novel with both involving Tess. This may be an example of parallel plots. Watch this explanation of parallel plots and think about how this novel uses this approach. Then explain in your own words the two plots that are present here. 
Notice that Ms. Balford was on the phone twice during this scene with Tess and both calls seem to have been about the cheating incident. But Ms. Balford doesn't tell Tess who was on the phone or what exactly was said. When a novel has a first person narrator, the reader is limited to only the information that the narrator himself or herself sees, hears, or thinks. 
The writer does a good job of keeping the reader in suspense. Using details from the story, explain how the writer has kept us in suspense about both conflicts in this story. 

Chapter 18

Why is Tess's family cleaning the garage? 
Which of the following themes does this paragraph best support? 
There are wish bracelets like this, but they aren't drawn on. What do you think Damien's wish might be?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 19

We can infer that Tess and Damien really like each other. Having a "crush" on someone is certainly not a concept limited to any time period, but there are many other aspects of this novel that link it to present day. That makes this novel part of the realistic fiction genre. Watch the video below to review this category of fiction.  (This annotation contains a video)
Since we know that realistic fiction deals with real problems and realistic characters, explain which problem Tess faces that many teenagers face. Which of her problems is not so typical? 

Chapter 20

A pottery wheel is a machine that can help shape a round pottery piece. While it spins, a person can use his or her hands to mold and smooth the clay. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following can be inferred from this paragraph about Tess's mother? 
Tess will compare lines and line segment to life. This is an example of a metaphor. (This annotation contains an image)
In Tess's metaphor, what would the two endpoints on a line segment represent? 
We can infer Tess's mother believes which of the following? 

Chapter 21

In South Africa, after abolishing apartheid, a committee dedicated to restoring justice was formed. Victims of civil right violation had a chance to speak as well as those accused.  (This annotation contains an image)
This answers some plot questions for us. Richard turned himself in for cheating. This probably makes you feel a little more sympathetic towards him, like he's basically a pretty good guy. In realistic fiction characters are multi-faceted, like real people. There are few of us who are all good or all bad. 

Chapter 22

Which part of the plot are we reading at this point in the novel? 
Quiz #3