Maria's Math News, October 2014


See how I evaluate a placement test, find out how the mysterious farmer's will was solved, learn about timed tests, and play fraction game and equation wheels! smile

1. Math Mammoth news

2. Evaluation of a math assessment test - example (grades 2-7)

3. A farmer and his three sons (grades 3-12)

4. Timed tests (grades 1-12)

5. Fraction game: My Closest Neighbor (grades 4-8)

6. Equation wheels (grades 6-9)



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    1. Math Mammoth news

    A Math Mammoth giveaway is around the corner! Stay tuned - I will send you the details about it in mid-October.

    2. Evaluation of a math assessment test - example

    You might already know that the placement tests on my site work equally well as generic math assessment tests.

    I also evaluate the test results for free.

    Now you can see an example of one student's test results and my evaluation here.

    Many students need to take two or even more tests in order to get a full picture of the gaps they have in their skills and knowledge. That was the case with this student also: she actually took three tests, grade 6, 5, and 4. I posted two of the tests and my evaluation at site. I hope it's helpful!

    3. A farmer and his three sons

    Here's an interesting story problem that I received in an email!

    A farmer died leaving his 17 horses to his three sons. When his sons opened up the will it read: 

    Photo by
    My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses;

    My middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses;

    My youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.

    As it's impossible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other. So, they decided to go to a farmer friend who they considered quite smart, to see if he could work it out for them.    

    The farmer friend read the will patiently, after giving due thought, he brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.    

    Now, he divided the horses according to their fathers will.
    • Half of 18 =   9. So he gave the eldest son 9 horses.
    • 1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 horses.
    • 1/9th of 18 =  2. So he gave the youngest son 2 horses.
    Now add up how many horses they have:

        Eldest son  9
        Middle son  6
        Youngest son  2

        TOTAL IS 17

    Now this leaves one horse over, so the farmer friend takes his horse back to his farm.

    Problem Solved!

    The moral:
    The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the 18th horse i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th horse the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won't be able to reach any!

    Clever, isn't it!

    4. Timed tests

    I wrote a new piece outlining some of the dangers of using timed tests in math, such as how they promote math anxiety and cause children to be afraid of making mistakes in math classes.

    Should you use timed tests for math facts?

    Go check it out!

    5. Fraction game: My Closest Neighbor

    Fraction 3/10
    I want to tell you about a neat game for fractions that I saw posted on Let's Play Math website. You only need a standard deck of playing cards (or any number cards)) from which you remove the picture cards. The game practices comparing fractions, equivalent fractions, benchmark numbers, and strategic thinking.

    Deal five cards to each player. In each round, choose two cards from your hand and make a fraction that is as close as possible (but not equal) to the given target number. Then draw two cards from the deck so you have five again.

    You will play six rounds with these target numbers:
    • Closest to zero
    • Closest to 1/4
    • Closest to 1/3
    • Closest to 1/2
    • Closest to one
    • Closest to two

    The player whose fraction is closest to the target collects all the cards played in that round. If there is a tie, the players can share the cards evenly or you can device your own rule for how to handle a tie.

    Fraction Game: My Closest Neighbor

    6. Equation wheels

    This is another neat idea I saw online. It's for practicing equations but you could adapt it to other things.

    There is an equation on each spoke of the wheel and the answer to the equation is on a clothes pin.

    Read more: Equation wheels

    That's it for this newsletter! I hope you found something beneficial. smile

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    Till next time,
    Maria Miller
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