made my day

Nov. 2nd, 2012 07:44 am
watervole: (Default)
 I had a lovely email from the mum of my current maths pupil.  He just had his results from school and he's now scoring equivalent to a year above his age.  A year ago, he was behind his class and struggling.

It really made my day.

I can't take all the credit.  He's a bright lad and I only see him for an hour a week.  I don't even work closely to the syllabus, just aim in the general direction of it.  What I try and do is find the points where he's failing to understand something and keep working backwards until we hit the point where he's comfortable and start forward from there.  When he's comfortable moving forward, we'll move pretty fast and take it in lots of directions and try and make it fun and slightly competitive.

I've found that boys respond a lot better to simple algebra problems if you let them roll dice to help generate random problems...  It gives them control of the process and dice (especially lots of D4, D10, D20, etc) are fun.

And we always take a break mid-lesson to play dice poker for five mins.  (because his attention span will be flagging by then and he always comes back better after the break)

The other thing that helped a lot is that his parents had drilled his tables perfectly into him.  This means that he has a good intuitive sense for a lot of things.  One thing I'm very keen on is making pupils estimate an answer before they start working on the question.  (In C's case, we both estimate an answer, work out the question and then win a bead for whoever came closest).  It's useful.  Often now, he'll work it out, look at his estimate and - without me prompting him -  go back and look to see where he went wrong.

Without that process, I find children will present totally crazy answers (out by several orders of magnitude) without really looking at them in relation to the original problem.  It's a bit like working out how far someone walks to go to school and getting a result of 3cm and not considering that odd.

XKCD

Mar. 6th, 2009 07:53 am
watervole: (Default)
There are days when I enjoy XKCD and days when I really love it.

Today is one of the 'love it' days.

Schools ought to pin this one on the wall of math classes - http://xkcd.com/552/

If my throat wasn't so sore, I'd have laughed out loud.  (I used to hate statistics until I encountered a really good lecturer at university - I've enjoyed the subject ever since)
watervole: (maths)
I was folding a few origami boxes at the weekend and decided to try my pentagonal box again, and realised that I could no longer remember how to do it!

Fortunately, once I got home, I was able to work it out again with the help of a previous LJ posting I'd made.

So, this is mostly a reminder to myself if I forget again, but also for anyone else who really wants to know.The maths )
watervole: (maths)
Just had a very good lesson with C, who is one of my favourite pupils of all time.  I've had him for quite some time now, and we clicked right from the beginning.

What I love about him (and this is something that I very much encourage) is that he's willing and able to look at more than one method of solving a problem.  Most pupils will methodically follow the rule they've been taught, but C will often find a way to short-cut the process.

Today, we were playing with enlargements, as he'd been having problems with them at school. By the time we'd finished the lesson, he was able to do fractional reductions with a point other than the origin as the Centre of Enlargement.  But what I loved was the details.  He got part way through one problem, and then did a measurement that wasn't a ray trace (the 'method') - I asked him what it was.  He was working out the centre point of the new shape.  It was rotationally symetric, so as soon as he had the centre, drawing the rest from what he already had was a pushover.

Later, he used a pair of dividers to quickly do four times a distance along a ruler do the ray trace for an enlargement of four.  He'd realised that he didn't actually need to know the numerical measurement, as long as he could multiply it by four in this manner.

The sad thing is that one of his teachers at school had told him that using dividers to measure distance was 'cheating' (though I don't think it was said in an unkind way).  I told C it was a jolly good idea.

For kids who don't have C's intuitive feel for things, it probably would be  a bad idea  - those who can barely memorise the 'method' will get confused if they use different ways of doing things.  In C's case, it shows that he really understands the method and is confident enough to start using variations.

He's come a long way from the lad I used to teach tables to.  He enjoys maths.  We treat it as a game and I am forever grateful that his mother has the confidence to allow me and C to wander off the syllabus occasionally and explore random corners of maths and science.

How may lads would look thrilled at seeing a new prism I bought (with him in mind, as it happens), and look forward to when we do more science so that we can play optics with it?  (I didn't even tell him I'd got it, he spotted it on the table!)

He has the potential to go a long way.

Scary

Nov. 13th, 2008 07:05 pm
watervole: (Eeek!)
I just saw the following ad on Facebook's scrabble page.

Need Cash in London?
Get an instant £80 - £750 to spend on anything. All done online. No faxing, no credit checks, no problem! Typical APR 1845%

That may be the scariest ad I've ever seen in my life...
watervole: (maths)
Apparantly I am the first person in three years to query this...

Can you spot the problem?
Answer behind the cut... )

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Judith Proctor

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