Maria's Math News, Vol. 48, December 2010

SpiderSmart's renowned Reading & Writing Program is now available online.

Enroll now! Go to today!

Hello again! This newsletter is a bit shorter but many of you are probably busy anyway. I have two great quiz sites for you, and even a gift idea for the mathematically minded.

1. (European?) notation for solving equations
2. Free online quizzes
3. Math Mammoth news
4. Tidbits

1. (European?) notation for solving equations

I saw a blogpost titled Carolin's Notation for Solving Equations. Carolin is from Germay. The notation she uses is exactly how I was taught (in Finland) to note what is done to each side of the equation, and I really like the notation. I don't know if it's used in all Europe. Basically, you note in "the right side margin" what you're going to do to both sides of the equation in your next step. The "margin" is made by writing a vertical line to the far right of your actual equation solving process.

6x - 5 = 2x      | -2x

4x - 5 = 0       | +5

    4x = 5       | ÷4

     x = 5/4

I just wanted to pass this on in case some of you who are teaching how to solve equations find it useful with students.

2. Free online quizzes

I have recently found two terrific sites for online quizzes:
  1. is a fantastic site for creating math quizzes.

    First, choose a topic (arithmetic/ geometry/fractions/decimals/exponents/money/time/measuring/graphs etc.). Then within the topic you have tons of options, such as timed/not timed, number of questions, and what kind of items are included. For example, in geometry you can choose which shapes are included in the quiz, whether area, perimeter, surface area, or volume are included, and if it asks for one of the "inputs" in reverse... In arithmetic, you can choose a "level" of difficulty for the quiz, if it is asked in reverse (e.g. 4 x ___ = 24) etc., etc. It even includes quizzes on graphs!

    Then... once you have your options chosen just as you like it, you can make a URL to that particular setup (see the bottom of page)! Then just post that URL to your blog or send it in an email for your students to click on and start doing the quiz.

  2. Glencoe's Study Tools has online quizzes for ALL school subjects, not just math.

    Near the bottom of the page it says "Access Online Learning Center". There you choose a state (any state), and your subject, and press Enter.

    For example, this page is what you get if you choose Florida and science. From there, you choose a book, and then look for "Student Center" or "Online Study Tools" to finally find the multiple-choice quizzes.

    So it is a lot of clicking but it is free.

    I've recently used it for science and Spanish. My daughter enjoys the challenge of answering the short quizzes and seeing them graded.

3. Math Mammoth news

Really, I have no big news this time. As you already know, the Statistics & Probability book in Blue Series completed the Blue Series. And Light Blue grade 6 is now available as well, completing the Light Blue series.

My next plans are
- increase the writing space in grade 1 and 2 materials
- make more videos

So stay tuned!

4. Tidbits

  • Monkey Pod Games
    They sell terrific wooden puzzles/games/brain teasers for the mathematically minded. Just browsing their site leaves me "drooling!" I've written a review of MonkeyPod products in the past, and I think their products are great gift ideas... Look at the brain teaser section for example. And the prices are around $10 for the most part. Amazon sells them as well.
  • SpiderSmart
    SpiderSmart has a reading & writing program that my daughter is using. Their online program is unique: The student reads books, then s/he answers vocabulary questions, reading comprehension questions, and writes an essay on each book. After completing one book, a real reacher provides feedback and student has to revise everything that needs revising.

    It has worked wonderfully with my child. I think one main reason is that it's a good OUTSIDER teacher, and not "just mom", working with the child. She thinks it's "cool", plus I feel an outside authority is good in her case. Secondly, writing essays has been challenging, but she enjoys the challenge and especially the end result. We always print out the essays and illustrate them with photos related to the book.
  • Songs from 24K Gold Music

    Unchained Melody - I absolutely love this song!

    I Will Survive - you might remember this one from the 80s.

    LightHouse - a beautiful gospel song.

Till next time,
Maria Miller

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