Maria's Math News, Vol. 45, October 2010

Hello again! We have lots to explore in this newsletter, from multiplication and abacus to estimation methods, PEMDAS, and integers.

1. Resources for multiplication tables
2. Kinetic Books Algebra 1 review
3. How to use an abacus with Math Mammoth
4. Order of operations / PEMDAS
5. Tidbits

1. Resources for multiplication tables

This time of year many students tackle multiplication tables. These resources can be of help:
  1. This video explains a method for "structured drilling" of multiplication tables. We don't start with random drill (that comes later) but with drill that is using the structure of the tables. The tables are also practiced "backwards", which will facilitate the learning of basic division facts.

    Over the years I have heard from many individuals who have gotten their child to learn the tables using this method, but recently I got word from a a principal of an English medium school in Pune, India, that they have already implemented my multiplication drilling method and it is working beautifully with their children! I feel flattered a whole SCHOOL is using it... and glad it is working.
There are some more resources...

2. Kinetic Books Algebra 1 review

Kinetic Books Algebra 1 is a digital textbook for algebra 1. This means it is a computerized and interactive curriculum. This is a complete stand-alone algebra 1 curriculum, containing the actual instruction, exercises, homework problems, quizzes, and tests.

The sequence of the topics in Kinetic Books Algebra 1 is quite traditional, so it can be easily adapted to school usage. The chapters are:

Read the full review

3. How to use an abacus with Math Mammoth

Recently I've received several questions about abacus usage within Math Mammoth curriculum. Here is what I wrote and added to my FAQ on the site.

The only way the abacus is used in my books is where each bead counts as one. Nothing fancy. It is NOT used like Chinese, Russian, or any of the other abaci where one bead might count as 5, 10, or 100.

Keep reading

4. Order of operations / PEMDAS

Someone asked me recently...
Could you please share with me your opinion of the "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" simplifying expressions. Any feedback could you give will be appreciated. Thank you.
This "PEMDAS" rule is a mnemonic for order of operations:

Continue reading

5. Tidbits

  • Estimation methods
    A quick comparison of three different estimation methods: front-end estimation, rounding, and compatible numbers.
  • Integer games online
    I have updated the list of integer games online at my site. Now the games are organized into sections of: ordering integers, addition & subtraction of integers, multiplication & division of integers, and all operations with integers.
  • Free math tutoring
    David Freeling from wants to let us know that as a part of a promotion to launch his site, he's offering FREE tutoring on every Friday.
  • That Word Called Love
    Words appear such weak and fragile creatures... A slow ballad by 24K Gold Music.
  • Love Will Keep Us Together
    Another love song... though totally different from the one above. This is from the 70s. I remember it being played as "department store music" in the 80s.

Till next time,
Maria Miller

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