h1

MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig …………………………………………………. with Kerry Cue

July 31, 2014

Mathspig Politicans maths

Hellooooooooo Sweeties,

Mathspig is always bemused that politicians (all shades), who struggle with maths of the economy, taxes and even their own expense accounts, suddenly become experts on how to teach maths.

Back to Basics is the current catch cry of politicians around the world … to win votes, of course. But what does it mean?:

Back to the 1950s?

With class sizes of 50, student reports stating ‘Margret was 33rd in the grade’ and the ‘strap’ waiting at the ready in the teacher’s desk draw.

Back to the 1960s?

When maths wasn’t taught to girls. (In Year 8 Mathspig went to a convent. The nuns only taught arithmetic.)

Back to the 1970s?

When the school curriculum was seen by some to be class-based patriarchal propaganda. Some schools stopped scoring football games to prevent the elitist paradigm spreading.

Today?

For some Back to Basics means Direct Instruction: a rigid, repetitious form of maths instruction when maths can be so much more. See Beware Maths Fundamentalists

Mathspigs Mission:

To make maths interesting, relevant and fun.

Here are some examples:

RATES:………………………………………………………………….

The Curious Nature of Drummers’ Brains

………………………………………………………………………..

% and LINEAR GRAPH:………………………………………

Hunger Games: How long does it take to bleed to death?

 ………………………………………………………………………..

PARABOLIC EQN:………………………………………………….

Hunger Games:  How much an arrow drops in 100m?

 ………………………………………………………………………..

GEOMETRY:………………………………………………………..

The raising of the Concordia

 ………………………………………………………………………..

PYTHAGORUS:…………………………………………………….

How Radar Works and the Search for a Ghost Ship

………………………………………………………………………..

Cheerio

Mathspig

 

h1

Beware Maths Fundamentalists

July 28, 2014

Louis CK Quote

…………………………………..

Is maths becoming a dead language?

mathspig fractionsIn the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W were going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014) was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile students in Australia, USA and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Vote 1 Me. (Probably can’t count to 2 anyway.)

vote slip 2

Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are being pushed in the UK, USA and Australia by politicians.

us flagIn 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).

.

.

uk flagLater this year a new ‘Back to Basics’ Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)

.

aus flagAustralia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back Direct Instruction in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australia, 5 JUL 2014) Direct Instruction is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Picture 2

Picture 3……………………………………

Do back to basics programs work?

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The work sheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.

…………………………………………………………………………….

We have ways of teaching to make you hate maths!!!!

Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.

…………………………………………………………………………. 

 

Why would some kids prefer water boarding to doing maths?

According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

not related to the real world,

repetitious,

boring

and restrictive.

See STOP THE PRESS: Maths Teaching Fails

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.

……………………………………….

One size does not fit all and local knowledge counts

Grade 3Elcho Island MapI’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and creative programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regeme like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.

………………………………

Ways of teaching maths that work

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, they have been proven to work in the classroom.

The Walker Learning Approach

Walker learningKathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.

…………………………………………………………….

Magdelene Lampert: Learning by Communication Method

teaching probMagdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching , has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your undestanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)

…………………………………………………………………………….

LET TEACHERS TEACH

Mathspig Pedagogy

Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

Mathspig Let Teachers Teach

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.

Mathjspig a gogo 1I’m Mathspig. And I love maths.

h1

MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig …………………………………………………. with Kerry Cue

June 30, 2014

Mathspig Outdoor Activities

Hellooooooooo My Little Wallaroos,

Mathspig has been reading The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  He describes school today as a form of ‘passive incarceration’. Too many children live their life indoors exposed to the ‘one-way experience of television and other electronic media’. Many rarely, or never, experience nature or just digging for worms in the garden. And sometimes nature is just around the corner. 

Mathspig lives 10 km from the CBD in Melbourne, Australia. Aussies often joke about riding kangaroos to school or warn of Drop Bears (Koalas that kill tourists dropping from trees). It’s our Aussie sense of humour. Those jokes almost seemed real when these kangaroos turned up by the Yarra river below Mathspig’s house recently. They’re wild roos. I saw them at 9am one Sunday looking at all the joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists on the nearby bike track. They didn’t seem worried. Awesome. Or, maybe, roo-some.

Kangaroo 1

So outdoors we go, mathpiggeies, to embrace nature and have some grand maths adventures:

Outdoor Maths Adventures: Grade 3 – 5

Outdoor Maths Adventures: Middle School

And don’t forget some Geometry Jokes.

Other outdoor maths adventures on this blog:

The shop is 50 Smoots on your left

Why not invent a new unit of length, make a string in, say, Smoots, and go outside and measure parts of the school.

……………………………………………………………..

Hoo Roo

…………………………………………………….

Mathspig

h1

Outdoor Maths Adventures: Grade 3 – 5

June 30, 2014

Outdoor Maths 1 Mathspig 2

This fab idea comes from Juliet Robertson, an outdoor education consultant in Scotland. Her blog Creative star learning is one of the most inspiring outdoor maths blogs you will find.

Outdoor Maths 2 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 3 mathspig

Outdoor Maths 4 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 5 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 6 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 7 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 8  Mathspig

Check out Mathpig’s protractor joke here.

Outdoor Maths 9 Mathspig

Outdoor Maths 10 Mathspig

Another fab idea from Juliet Robertson.

 

h1

Outdoor Maths Adventures: Middle School

June 30, 2014

 

 

Outdoor maths middle school 1 mathspig

Lego Man soccer fields will vary in size depending on the height of each player picked by each student. This does your head in. It is really challenging maths!

 

Outdoor Maths Middle School 2 Mathspig

McGill Uni link here.

Outdoor Maths MIddle School 3 Mathspig

Don’t forget to throw in Mathspig’s lame protractor jokes.

Outdoor Maths Middle School 4 mathspig

You’ll find full calculations at the Maths is Fun blog.

Outdoor Maths Middle School 5 Mathspig

You’ll find more fab outdoor junior and middle school maths activities at the terrific Maths and Movement blog.

Outdoor Maths Middle school 6 Mathspig

Some students will discover their co-ordinate point is not on the grid. Students should then work out that they will need a different scale for the y-axis. You can get more inspiration at the Stand Again blog.

h1

Geometry Jokes

June 30, 2014

Protactors and dinosaurs mathspig

Protractor headed Mathspig

Protractor Tattoo Mathspig

h1

MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig …………………………………………………. with Kerry Cue

May 29, 2014

 

Mathspig Death by Chocolate herculanum

Hellooooooooo My Little Sweetpeas,

Put it down. Step back from the ch0colate box. Did you know chocolate can kill you? And it takes less than you think. Stop chewing and read on:

Death by Chocolate: The Maths

……………………………………………………..

How to kill your teacher with kindness! Do the maths.

……………………………………………………..

Death by Chocolate for DOGS

……………………………………………………..

Death by Chocolate for CATS

………………………………………………………………………………………………

 While we’re looking at spooky DEATH Statistics check out these posts:

 We’re All Gonna Die

or Why Death Rates are Over-Rated!

…………………………………………………….. 

A Comic Look at Death Statistics

……………………………………………………..

Can you die laughing?

……………………………………………………..

 Maybe, won’t die. Maybe, you will become a ZOMIE. No worries, we have that covered too.

Zombie Maths

……………………………………………………..

Bye-de-bye and watch your step

…………………………………………………….

Mathspig

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers