Kiss those Math Headaches GOODBYE!

Archive for May, 2011

Short Break


Hello everyone,

During this transition between the end of the school year and the start of summer, I will be taking a break from blogging. The break will be either one week or two weeks … I’m not quite sure yet. In any case I will be back in touch in the early-to-mid part of June.

Best,

—  Josh

 

 

James Bond Math Challenge


Math in the movies … if there ever was a cool way to explore math, this has to be it. And if you missed my earlier posts on this, check them out here and here.

Math is Cool!

I was looking through the links to movies with math themes, and a question came up.

On the site showing the movies, the text says that there are “mathematical themes and patterns motivated by math” in the introduction scene for the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, this clip:

I’ve watched the clip a few times, and I have my own ideas as to mathematical themes and patterns.

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Quick Easy Way to Untangle Confusion re: “Greater” and “Less”


Whenever I can find a memory trick that helps students get something straight, I use it. Students needs to remember so many things in algebra, so whatever help we can give them is well appreciated.

So recently I stumbled upon a memory trick that helps students tell which of two numbers is greater and which is less.

No Mistakes

Let's Reduce Mistakes in Algebra!

You might be thinking:  greater and less?! Why would any student have trouble with that? Well, before students hit negative numbers and absolute value, there is generally little trouble. The greater numbers are the larger numbers, the lesser numbers are the smaller numbers. And kids basically know what we mean by larger and smaller whole numbers, when they are dealing with positive numbers and zero.

But when students encounter negative numbers, some things change.
While 10 > 5,   – 10 IS not > – 5. Instead:  – 10 < – 5.

As if that were not enough, absolute vale comes along and makes things still more confusing, since it takes the value of any number and makes it positive. So now:

abs. value of – 10 > abs. value of – 5

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How to Grasp the Distributive Property w/ Fun, Visual Symbols


Progress …

I made some progress yesterday helping a boy understand the distributive property, and it was mostly due to the use of visual symbols.

I’d like to share the process of my tutoring, for it shows how important it is to break an algebraic procedure into its constituent “baby” steps. I’d also like to share the process because I used a fairly unusual technique — using visual, non-algebraic symbols to take the place of algebraic symbols. As you’ll see, this technique has some interesting advantages.

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Movie Math: Wake Students Up with Silver Screen Riddles


Last days of the school year … kids getting “antsy.”

Harder and harder to keep their attention … so what’s a teacher to do?

Answer:  Let the media help us with the media generation.

In my May 16 post, I pointed you to a website that showed how math is used in major motion pictures.

Math is Cool!

In this post I’d like to focus on one such reference to math in the movies, and show how you can turn it into a fun “End-of-Year” lesson.

The clip of Die Hard below has a great scene in which the Bruce Willis character needs to solve a mathematical puzzle in less than five minutes to avoid getting blown up. It’s an exciting scene, and the math is interesting.

I suggest that you first have your class watch this clip.

After watching it, review the solution with your class.
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Memorization in Algebra — They’ll LOVE you for it (later)


Here’s a novel idea …

Bring back math memorization … at the Algebra 1 level!

No — I’ not suggesting that we ask students to memorize the times tables from the 12s to the 20s.

Nix on that because it is NOT critical information for algebra students to have. So it would not serve the greater purpose of these students.

But I am suggesting that we require students to memorize a handful of facts that will make
their algebra experience considerably less painful.

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Secrets of the Calculator, Part 2


Welcome to the second in my series of posts about the “secrets of the calculator.” In my first post on this topic I explained how the 1/x key can make it easier to input certain expressions. If you missed that one, just click here.

Today I’d like to talk about another key that is quite useful, the “EE” key.

What in the world is the EE key, and what does it do?

At first hearing, EE sounds a bit like the call of a monkey.

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How to Use the Calculator’s 1/x Key?


In my tutoring I am continually surprised by how little most students know about their calculators.

It is true that most students know the basics:  the four operations, the exponent key, the square root key, the Pi key, and maybe some trig fundamentals, like sin, cos 60 and tan. But aside from these basic keys and keystrokes, many students have little to no idea what the other keys do.

The funny thing is that there are so many keys and keystrokes that students would just “love” if they only knew about them.

So to help students out a bit here, I’m starting an occasional series whose name is just below.

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Math in movies: Who says math isn’t cool?


Some people say that math isn’t “cool,” whatever that means.

I say that is just wrong. Take a look at a wonderful link I found.

Math is Cool!

It shows a wide range of movies that have math content as part of the story, and it directs you right to the scenes that have the math woven in (check out the Flash links). Check them out and see if you agree that math can be as entertaining as … as … showbiz!

Here is a link to mathematics in the movies.

I enjoyed browsing through these. A few of my favorites are:

A Beautiful Mind

October Sky

Contact

Algebra Survival e-Workbook arrives TODAY!!


The “Algebra Survival” Program goes totally electronic!

Singing Turtle Press is delighted to announce that the companion Workbook for the Algebra Survival Guide is now available in eBook format.

Algebra Survival Workbook - electronic version

e-Version of ASG Workbook ARRIVES!

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