Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 3: What counts

Once a week, I volunteer at Mattecentrum, helping kids with mathematics. The national exams are this week and experience tells us that attendance tends to be particularly high at our räknestugor (math labs) on weeks such as this. The anxiety level was pretty high too and the buzz of cramming filled the room. They don't teach math like they used to, that's for sure. Couple that to clearing the cobwebs that inhabit those portions of my brain and I sometimes wonder if I am not confusing these kids more than helping!

Math Lab at Södra Latin

Nerves got to some students more than others. Two young ladies simply blacked out on how to multiply two, two-digit numbers. 94x32. I only know one way, so I rewrote the problem the "old fashioned" way

x  32

and proceeded to show them how to solve it. I always try to give them tips on how to check their answers, if not exactly then at least approximately. In this example, my reasoning was that 94 is pretty close to one hundred so the answer should be somewhat less than 100x32 or 3200. "That's actually quite clever," one said. THAT's when it's all worth it!

Teaching is the art of figuring out as many ways to present or explain the material as it takes for the light to go on in the eyes of every student in the room. That's the challenge...and the fun.


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  2. This was a fun and interesting post- more math problems please ;o)

    1. Thanks Stacy...nice to have readership :-)
      You can find all the math problems your heart desires free online on, Mattecentrum's site in English. Happy calculating!