Posts Tagged ‘too hard’


5. It’s Too Hard

September 29, 2017

The Complaint:  

It’s too hard!………………


The Cause:

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.


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


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.

Karate Maths of OUCH! That hurts!


A Maths Fairy Tale for Grade 2

May 12, 2016

A Maths FAiry Tale Mathspig

Once upon a time, Grade 2 students did very boring work in maths. And they had to do lots of tests too.


Sometimes evil witches wrote the test questions. These Year 2 (Grade 2) questions were very, very scary. Here is one of those very scary questions. It was so scary lots of people turned into angry birds when they saw this question. The angry birds tweeted that this question is ” too hard’. Tweet! Tweet! (The Telegraph , UK, 9 May, 2016)

A very wise old Mathspig worked out the answer.

X -19 +17 = 63

                X = 65

Mmmmm, this is a scary question for Grade 2. 

Many Grade 2 teachers are Wonderful Maths Wizards. They make maths magical and fun everyday. Students must sharpen their pencils and put on their wizards thinking hats to practise their maths. But maths can be magical and fun too. So here is:


by Mathspig

A Wonderful Maths Wizard teacher can read the story out loud and the little Grade 2 Maths Wizards can write down their answers.


Tooth Fairy Math Mathspig 1

Tooth Fairy Mathspig 2a

Printable Version below.

A Maths Fairy Tale 1

A Maths Fairy Tale 2

A Maths Fairy Tale 3


Maths isn’t TOO HARD; it’s TOO BORING, Sir!

January 15, 2016

Lego Mathspig 2

Hello my little Peeps,

In 2012 The New York Times ran an article by Andrew Hacker titled ‘Is Algebra Necessary?’ The argument was, basically, that too many students find algebra difficult and colleges in America use math results to screen students thus further disadvanting already disadvantaged students. The author had a point. eg. Of all who embark on higher education, only 58 percent end up with bachelor’s degrees. The main impediment to graduation: freshman math.

Perhaps, algebra could be taught in a different way. Mathspig was inspired by New York Grade 3 teacher, Alycia Zimmerman, who uses Lego to teach fractions (See next post) and came up with the following examples.

Lego Mean, Median and Mode

Lego Algebra

But Mathspig has always lerved Lego Maths. Here are just a few examples;

Ratios: Lego Olympics

Ratios: The Rosetta Project Scaled down to a Lego Universe

Other links to Lego Maths.

And while you are doing your Lego Maths you an also use the Lego Template to design your own Lego Figurine.

Screen shot 2016-01-15 at 3.33.52 PM

Download Template here.

Have fun peeps.