Often, students, who are struggling with a concept, find it even more challenging when changing grades and/or schools because a new teacher uses a different method to the one they were taught.

eg. Long Division must have the most ridiculous number of methods for doing it.

Add a multi-cultural classroom and even more confusion results.

Find the method that works for you. Stick with it and practice, practice, practice.

eg. Long Division

Here is the BEST EVER long division method

THE LEGO ARGUMENT:

It would be tragic IF Lego blocks only had one solution. That is IF 6 Lego blocks could only be arranged in one way. In fact, the number of possibilities of arranging 6 blocks is MIND EXPLODING!

This response often results when students face some new topic – often beyond numbers – that students can’t handle on auto pilot. Instead of working through the problem, they crash and burn.

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The Solution:

I’m going to tell you a story. Bear with me for a minute. You did maths from Grade 1 to 6. You’re cool. No major dramas. Then something happens. A new topic, perhaps. Or a new teacher and a new topic. You don’t get it. You sit there looking confused. And then you do this. You say ‘I can’t do maths’( See post here) or ‘It’s too hard’.

In my maths teacher days terror topics were:

Long division

Algebra

Dividing Fractions

Geometry (because so few students listen to what the teacher is saying.)

Trigonometry (Lot of, you know, things to learn. Equations and stuff.)

So you stop doing maths. You retire at the age of, maybe, 13 years.

If you hit the MATHS WALL, here’s what you have to do. Back up a bit. Do some warm up maths on the topic. It’s out there.

eg. The Kahn Academy. I’m not saying it is easy. (See THE MATHS SPEECH here) I’m telling you it is doable. Practise.

Maths is always TOO HARD when you give up. But when you try amazing things can happen.

Besides, if a raccoon can do it.

Here is an exercise that you didn’t think you could do. But it is entirley doable by Middle School students with patience.

Most students who said “I can’t do maths’ when I was teaching, didn’t do maths. They talked, penned a tattoo on their arm. Or scribbled in the text book. Today they read texts or play games on their phones under table or fall asleep.

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The Solution:

There is no point arguing. Students must ‘see’ they can do maths.

Do something that grabs their attention, something counterintuitive. Here is one of the BEST revision projects ever for middle school maths students. Remember, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

NB: This post has been updated twice. Disraeli said that if you want to become acquainted with a subject, write about it!!!! Mathspig’s head nearly exploded writing about this subject. But I’ve got it down to its simplest form now. One that Mathspig finally understands.

The Complaint: Maths is really SCARY!…………….

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The Cause:

Some students think maths is always right or wrong and they are scared of making mistakes.

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The Solution:

Tackle problems that can’t be solved even by a computer. Students can only guess the answer and then test it. Anyone can make a guess. Work in groups. Every member of the group can contribute as students explore this maths.

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The Challenge:……………………………………………………….

Can you crack a security encryption code?….…………………………………………………..

Mathspig thanks Prof Kate Smith-Miles, Prof of Applied Maths, Monash University for the information about Keychains. Kate has used KEYCHAIN exercises with primary school students. They really enjoyed going home and showing their parents how to find a Keychain on the computer.