Maria Miller Can you change your student's attitude towards math? And why do many children have SO many problems with word problems? Those, and much more... in this April edition of math tips:
  1. Review in Math Mammoth
  2. Changing one's attitude towards math (a FREE course)
  3. The trouble with WORD PROBLEMS
  4. Where math symbols come from
  5. Homeschool algebra 1 resources

1. Review in Math Mammoth

Someone just asked me about REVIEW in Math Mammoth:

"...I was wondering if with this method if they will go back over what they learn or is it a kind of learn it and move on kind of thing?"

Math Mammoth is indeed mastery-based, but there is some built-in review. Please see more details at the FAQ.

Math Mammoth Grade 1 Skills Review Workbook Math Mammoth Grade 2 Skills Review Workbook Math Mammoth Grade 3 Skills Review Workbook
Also... we have developed supplemental Skills Review Workbooks that give extra review in a spiral manner.

Between the built-in features and the new skills review workbooks, there is surely enough review!

2. Changing one's attitude (towards math)

Someone recently asked me for advice concerning a 4th grade daughter who has a not good (negative) attitude towards math, along with her struggling with math. This mother said she always focused on reading and comprehension (which the daughter does well), but she didn't focus enough on math. This girl has convinced herself that she doesn't like math and that she is not good at math. Mom desperately wants to change her way of thinking!

The girl had done placement tests or the end-of-year tests for grades 1, 2, and 3, and those showed some inconsistencies... like she did much better on the money section for 2nd grade than for 1st. Some really EASY questions (like 6 - 2 and other subtraction facts) from 1st grade were answered wrong. The 2nd grade test was about 60%, and 3rd grade, she didn't try most questions.

I asked her to REDO 4 problems from the 1st grade EoY test... and then she got them almost all correct! Which meant, she passed the 1st grade test just fine.

It made me wonder what is going on... I am suspecting the girl purposefully didn't put forth the effort to try to get the problems correct, so that the test results don't fully show what all she actually knows.

Changing a student's attitude towards math is definitely possible, with the right kind of instruction and experiences. One thing that really helps is if the child can understand the math and make progress. In other words, not understanding the math causes them to turn negative towards it (quite obviously).

Free course for students
Of course there are other factors, too, like the teacher's attitude towards math... it's usually contagious!

There also exists a FREE online course from Youcubed, tailored to CHANGE students' attitudes towards math, and that's what I suggested to this mother that her daughter take.

I hope it will help!

3. The trouble with word problems

It's time to talk about WORD PROBLEMS!

Why is it that many children have such trouble with them?

Image by RadioFlyer007 (black border removed)
Licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
I've written some thoughts about this issue... I feel it is fairly comprehensive article, and hopefully helpful! Let me know what you think.

Here's the outline of the article:

And here's the beginning:

The problem

Have you ever noticed this kind of "recipe" for math lessons in many math books?


Explanation and examples.
Numerical exercises.
A few word problems.

In other words, the word problems are usually in the END of the lesson, and just a few. But worse... if the lesson is about topic X, then the word problems are usually about the topic X too!

Children might be learning about multi-digit multiplication, or subtraction, or dividing decimals. After the calculation exercises come some word problems, which oddly enough are solved by using the exact operation just practiced!

Worse YET... typically the word problems in elementary grades only have TWO numbers in them. So, even if you didn't understand a word in the problem, you might be able to do it. (The misguide to problem solving at the end of this article refers to this also.)

Just try: the following made-up problem is in FINNISH... and let's say it is found within a long division lesson. I assume now that you do NOT know Finnish — but can you solve it?

Kaupan hyllyillä on 873 lakanaa, 9:ää eri väriä. Joka väriä on saman verran. Kuinka monta lakanaa on kussakin värissä?

Continue reading...

4. Origin of math symbols

A delightfully animated, short video about where math symbols come from... in case or your children or you ever wondered. :)

5. Homeschool algebra 1 resources

I just updated my article on resources and courses for algebra 1... you will find algebra textbooks, video websites, and online courses — and several of them are completely free. :)

Thanks for reading! :)

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Till next time,
Maria Miller
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