Homeschool Math Newsletter, Vol. 39, April 2010

Math Goodies
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In this month's newsletter:

1. Math Mammoth Grade 6-A now available
2. Multiplication algorithm (a.k.a. multi-digit multiplication or multiplying in columns)
3. Place value, scientific notation, and proportion worksheets
4. An algebra problem
5. Review: Soma cube and tangram
6. Tidbits

1. Math Mammoth Grade 6-A now available

Math Mammoth Grade 6-A complete curriculum consists of a student worktext, a separate answer key, chapter tests, cumulative reviews, and an easy worksheet maker (Internet access required) to make extra practice worksheets when needed.

The part A deals with

  • the four operations and exponents
  • simple equations and expressions
  • ratios and problems involving ratios
  • proportions, scaling of geometric figures, and scaling in maps
  • all operations with decimals
  • primes and prime factorization
  • all operations with fractions

You can see samples and read more information here.

2. Multiplication algorithm (a.k.a. multi-digit multiplication or multiplying in columns)

The two videos below show how you could teach multi-digit multiplication, or the multiplication algorithm, or multiplying in columns to students.

Teaching multiplication algorithm

Teaching multiplication algorithm

I approach this in steps. First, in order to teach students to multiply 4 × 87 or 5 × 928 (one factor is single-digit), I would:

1) Teach students to multiply single-digit numbers by whole tens and hundreds.
2) Teach them the partial products algorithm;
3) Use the above as a stepping stone and teach the usual multiplication algorithm.

Then we can go on to the two-digit multiplier:

4) Teach the partial products again.
5) Teach the regular form of the algorithm.

Read more details...

3. Place value, scientific notation, and proportion worksheets

At, you can now make free worksheets for place value & scientific notation (such as write a number in expanded form or in scientific notation), and also for proportions, including simple proportion word problems.

The links are:
Place value & scientific notation worksheets
Proportion worksheets

4. An algebra problem

The speed of a freight train is 14km/h slower than the speed of a passenger train. The freight train travels 330 km, in the same time that it takes a passenger train to travel 360 km. Find the speed of each train.

Again, an algebra problem about speeds. Again, we will make a simple table about the two trains. The table will have columns for speed, distance, and time.

Read more!

5. Review: Soma Cube and Tangram from Monkey Pod Games

The Soma cube is a dissection puzzle. It has seven pieces that have to be assembled into a 3x3x3 cube. So, that is the main challenge, but you can also arrange the pieces into all kinds of other interesting 3-D shapes.

Soma cube pieces

I received a wooden Soma cube from Monkey Pod games. The cube comes in a neat, good-looking wooden box that can be showcased in your bookcase as a decorative item. But, it's certainly not meant for decoration only! It is quite a fun challenge! The Soma cube from Monkey Pod games comes with a little booklet that shows you the solution so you can get the pieces back to the box, but it also shows you several dozen other 3-d shapes to make with the pieces.

Read more!

6. Tidbits

  • Subitizing
    What is "subitizing"? It's probably a new word for most. It basically means being able to recognize instantly how many objects you see, without counting. This is an important concept for grades K-3, approximately.
  • Call to teachers: The Learning Benefits of Erroneous Examples
    Would you like to give your students extra practice with middle school math and, at the same time, get feedback on the skills your students are mastering and those they are struggling with?

    Bruce McLaren, a learning science researcher from Carnegie Mellon University, is inviting middle school math teachers to join his team, and to use his materials for learning decimals, for free. The project uses intelligent software tutors online. The idea is that your students work with and learn from their middle school math materials, you get reports on their progress, including test scores, and the researchers collect data about what they are learning for scientific purposes.

  • SpiderSmart Online Reading & Writing Program
    (Maria's note: Spidersmart is the company I originally wrote Math Mammoth Golden Series worksheets for in 2006. What follows is some basic information about their online reading and writing program, for those interested in such.)

    We've been helping students become active readers and stronger writers for nearly 20 years, and we've been doing it online since 2003. With our program, students have access to a virtual library of over 1,500 real books that range from mysteries to fantasies to biographies to Newbery Award winners. With each book read, the student completes an online assignment designed specifically for that book that includes sections focused on vocabulary building, reading comprehension skills, and essay writing. A real teacher provides feedback consisting of explanations, examples, discussion, and methods of improvement for every assignment. We provide a teacher-mentor to work directly with every student, so the focus is on the student and feedback is consistently building crucial skills needed to strengthen reading and writing abilities. It truly is like having a private tutor in your home.

  • Cute Cat Videos
    Lately I've made an experiment of sorts, and that is I've checked what it is like to create a website with Weebly. Weebly is a service that lets you build a website with a drag-and-drop interface. My testing website is called Cute Cat Videos. I've collected a few videos of cats doing tricks, silly cats, cats and kittens with other animals, and such.

Till next month,
Maria Miller

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