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Who Ya Gonna Call? Homework Busters!

September 14, 2012

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Kyle Gerrity is Co-Founder of Slader, an Aussie-American and Director of Performing Arts. He lives in NY. His hair is Australian.

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Slader is an academic community for students, by students. It is the first crowd-sourced approach to education online. Slader is a collaborative website that provides answers for American School Text Books. All the answers. Students can use the forum to work on problems with other students and/or access up to 75 answers a day. Woo Hoo! (Then a small, but affordable, fee applies.)  Slader was developed to help ALL students with math, but especially their math homework.

 

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An Interview with Kyle

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Q1: What math topic was your favourite at school?

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Algebraic equations of all sorts. Specifically, simplifying polynomial expressions appealed to my inner need for cleanliness!

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Q2: What math topic drove you insane?

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Trigonometric identities. They. Drove. Me. Nuts! (And still do.)

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Q3: Did you ever do anything really exciting in math at school like go on an excursion to some weird math convention?

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Tragically not. Although I did babysit my Algebra II teacher’s children for extra credit. Seriously.

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Q4: What math error in the media annoys you the most?

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When Fox News shows bar graphs and distort the scales of their X- or Y- axes to convey a specific political point.

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Q5: Give me 3 reasons why you think students should do math.

 

1. Because if you love math, then it’s fun.

2. Because if you don’t love math but you’re good at it, you’ll likely be able to make good coin doing something tangential to the subject in adulthood.

3. Because if you are neither in love with math nor good at it, then learning a difficult subject can have far more rewards in the long term than just immediate frustration.

 

Q6: What is wrong with the way math is taught in American schools?

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Homework is treated like a take-home test. Instead, homework should be the time were students can wrestle around with issues and not be afraid to toy around with concepts, ask questions, and get help without the risk of a lower grade.

(Mathspig: How weird is that? Aussie kids correct their own math homework because the answers are in the back of the book. It would be sooooo easy to write a MATH TEXT BOOK if you don’t have to work out the answers!!!!)

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Q7: What can teachers do right now to get kids more interested in math?

 

High school students have a short feedback loop. My business partner, Scott Kolb, and I were fortunate to have a high school teacher who was clued into this fact. He constantly engaged us students in positive feedback. In the same manner in which a student can quickly become lost and disengaged through negative feedback (ie. getting lost on homework, receiving a bad grade on an exam, or simply saying the wrong answer aloud in class that’s met with negativity), that same student can be captured through positive responses.

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Q8: How does your blog/website/book help students with their math?

 

Slader is a student-driven site with user-generated content.

 

We operate under the assumption that homework should never be a take home test; learning takes place in the classroom and homework is the time to wrestle around with concepts taught in class without fear of failure. Therefore by offering moderated step-by-step solutions and written explanations, Slader ensures a student is not isolated in his/her math frustration after school; help is out there.

 

Another key objective of ours is that we are a student-initiated site. A student may think they are simply coming on to Slader to grab one answer that they are having a tough time with, and for many of our users that’s how their Slader experience begins. However, we consider it a success when that student ask her first question or rates his first solution. Encouraging users to interact socially with math in an out-of-school context is our goal and we’ve achieved once our users are engaging with each other online.

 

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Q9: Tell us one funny math story/joke.

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What is the first derivative of a cow? Prime Rib!

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Q10: If you ruled the world what would change to help kids get excited about math?

 

I would love to create a system of digital learning tools (textbooks, even) that churn out positive affirmation every step of the way. In a public school classroom of 30+ students, such a tool can encourage subject mastery and allow students to focus more time on concepts difficult to them, respectively. And here at Slader, we believe that providing correct answers and solutions to capture a student’s engagement just before s/he gets lost is a good way to start. 🙂

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Kyle Gerrity, for services above and beyond the call of math duty and for outstanding service in relieving the pain and suffering of math students everywhere, you are declared an Honourable Mathspig.

 

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  5. Ha! The prime rib joke is one of my favorites! Then again, I was raised in a hot bed of cow tipping, so all bovine jokes are funny to me.

    What do you call a cow with two legs? Lean beef.
    What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef.
    What is a cow’s favorite subject? Cowculus.



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