Final exams are coming up and you are freaking out! There are steps that you can take in order to help you prepare for the upcoming exam. Don't panic. Do not wait until the night before to start studying. Start going over the material weeks before the final. Previous exams - use the midterm and any other exams to help you study material from earlier in the semester. Problems that you saw on these exams may also show up on the final. Practice finals - many professors sometimes hand out practice problems or practice finals in order to help you study. Go over these problems and make sure you know how to solve every problem. Take a break from your study routine occasionally. Your brain will thank you!
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I will never forget my favorite math teacher. Mr. Lazur taught ninth grade CAS Geometry (my school's version of AP) and also twelfth grade IB Calculus, so I was fortunate enough to have him as a high school freshman and then again as a senior. I'm incredibly thankful for Mr. Lazur because his fun and informal teaching style got even the most anxious students to actually enjoy math. In his classes I learned to think about math on a more “macro” scale, thinking about the concepts and how they related to each other rather than getting bogged down in numbers. He also knew exactly when and how to give a practical demonstration of a confusing concept so that none of us would ever forget it again. One of these demonstrations has stuck with me ever since, and I don't think I'll ever lose the knowledge it provided. We were in Geometry, working on volumes of solids. The previous day we'd learned the formulas for volume for cubes and cylinders, and today we were supposed to... read more
"Girls often believe themselves to be bad at math, in accordance with gender stereotyping, and often experience high levels of anxiety about the subject. That anxiety appears to be driven by social influences, and may be vanishing in early education. Still, identifying its causes could help eliminate it at later stages of education, and prevent it from making a reappearance in young girls. A new study suggests that elementary school may be a breeding ground for this anxiety. The study found that when elementary school teachers, who are primarily female, displayed a high level of anxiety about math, that skittishness was transmitted to their female students. Those students who spent a year with a math-phobic teacher displayed lower math achievement and an increased belief in stereotypes about female mathematical ability... ...Seeing a math-anxious woman encouraged female students to buy into the stereotype that girls were unskilled at math, thereby allowing... read more
Greetings, scholars! Usually I reserve my blog for sharing tech tips and practical advice, but the upcoming holiday has me reflecting on how thankful I am for the wonderful teachers I have had over the years. There's Dr. Galvin, who taught me how to think about discrete mathematics, helped me appreciate "vintage" math literature, and showed me the online encyclopedia of integer sequences. Of course there's Mr. Capello, my high school English teacher, who taught me to write with certainty and confidence, and more recently, Dr. Dubson, who generously shares his physics class via Coursera. The most important lesson in my education, though, came much earlier, back when I was a typical kid with a wandering mind and no love for math homework. In my elementary school years, my dad would often sit beside me, ensuring that I completed problems successfully and gently correcting me when I made inevitable mistakes. When I made a mistake, I would say, "Sorry!" He... read more
Hi All! In the spirit of giving, starting on 11/29/2013, I will be offering a few brainteasers/ trivia questions where the first 3 people to email me the correct answer will receive a free, one hour, tutoring session in any subject that I offer tutoring for (via the online platform)! That's right free! Get your thinking hats on everyone! Merry Christmas!! Andrew L. Profile
I find oftentimes that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for algebra students is that beginners have difficulty seeing the "chunks" in an expression. Instead, they see a big jumbled mess of symbols. An analogy is an orchestra. A person who has never played a musical instrument, or doesn't have much experience with listening to music, hears the orchestra as one big sound. The trumpets, flutes, strings, percussion all happening at once. An experienced musician can isolate each instrument, and let the rest of the orchestra fade, focusing on the single melody or harmony line. Likewise, an experienced mathematician can isolate the sections of an expression, focusing on the single term or operation that needs to be dealt with at the moment, allowing the rest of the expression to fade away for the time being, until the term or operation has been dealt with. Consider the following problem; can you see the four operations required to solve the... read more
Everyone wants our children to have excellent educations, yet our schools too often fall well short of this goal. Why is this? Bad teachers, bad parents, bad kids, lack of funding for programs, there seems to be no shortage of reasons. A closer look at our schools however, will show that almost without exception there is at least one activity at each school where the students truly excel. One school may excel at volleyball and another at football. It may be choir or the art program, but these pockets of excellence exist where these bad kids of bad parents, led by bad teachers are consistently outperforming their peers year after year. Ironically, at many schools these programs are often viewed as detrimental, distracting the students from the core curriculum. Nothing could be further from the truth; these are the programs we need to emulate. You do not become a sectional or state champion caliber athlete or artist by accident, it takes a great deal of focus,... read more
Mathbreakers, it's a 3D first person shooter game, based on math. Really. I may be considered biased, because this video game is the product of the company I work for. But then again, I really believe in this product, that's why I started working for this company. You may have heard that video games are good for everyone (yeah that includes adults like me and you, not just children!). For those of you who don't know that yet, please do some research online, it has been a subject of various scientific studies, and has proven results! And these studies are for games that never had the intent to "teach"! There is another class of games, which are specifically for learning. Mathbreakers is one of them, it's a world where players can smash, chop, and combine numbers with a variety of tools and gadgets. There are number monsters, spatial logic puzzles, math spells and magical structures — it’s an infinite playground, where anything is possible. No, you are not... read more
Let me preface this by saying that I completely understand that children don’t develop true abstraction skills until late teens/early 20s — and that some never develop a full ability for such. That being said, guided prompts through a proof seem to work. I have been substitute-teaching in a school district lately (I have loan payments coming up since I am post-graduation, and private tutoring, plus app-revenue doesn’t cover living expenses plus my loans), and I got a job for teaching 6th grade math for the day. There were a total of 5 classes of regular math and one advanced class (since I had to teach Reading and ELA in the morning, too). Let me say that I’m not clueless — I have (essentially) a psych degree completed (only missing the keystone thesis — I took a loooooooot of psych classes because I was always interested in computational brain simulations), as well as 5+ years as a TA and 7+ years as a private tutor. I’ve spent more than my fair share of... read more
I decided to go back to school this year to earn my math endorsement. I feel that I need to take this, not only to better myself, but to be a better teacher to my students. Math has always scared me, and I hope that by learning how to teach children better, I will also be able to teach them not to be afraid of it! It's been a challenge, being away from my son in the evenings, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
I used to do this and I see a lot of students who do this common mistake when studying. Maybe you are working through old homework problems to prepare for an exam in math or physics and you have the solutions in front of you. You get to a certain point and you get stuck, so you check the solution, see what the next action you have to take is, and then continue working through the problem. Eventually you get an answer that may (or may not) be right and check the solution again. If it is, you feel great and move on. If it isn't you compare the work and see what you did wrong and understand the mistake so you move on. All this is a fine way to start studying, but the major mistake is that most students don't go back to that problem and try to do it again. Even if you were able to understand the solution or the mistake you made, you never actually got through the problem completely without aid. So now if you come to this problem on your test, this will be the first time you actually... read more
I teach Math and Reading at my local community college part-time. The one thing students say most often is, "I don't do math." Whether we realize it or not, we ALL "do" math each and every day. When we determine what time we must get up in order to get somewhere on time, we must utilize elapsed time, working with numbers. When we consider whether we can afford to buy something at the store, we are using mental math. When we are playing video games, we are doing calculations in our heads to determine the best strategy. Math is everywhere. If it wasn't for math, think of things we would be doing without: television, computers, space travel. The list goes on and on, so instead of saying, "I don't do math," say instead, "I am bigger than this problem. I can and will figure it out." Believing you can ensures that you will. Attitude is everything.
Many young students struggle with the concepts of money, especially coins. They struggle because the size of a dime is smaller in diameter than a penny and a nickel, but is worth more. They struggle because counting by 10's then 5's can get confusing. One way I help students to identify coins value is by creating a chart. The chart lists the value of each coin and then, I have them help me to create different ways to make the same coin. For example, two dimes and one nickel equals one quarter. After the chart is created we then play a game called make $0.50. The kids roll dice and then create that amount in coins. If they have enough to trade up for a bigger valued coin, then they trade. The goal is to obtain two quarters. This is a fun way for kids to learn the value of coins, count by 10's and 5's more quickly and identify coins quicker.
I always enjoyed math, however shortly after beginning college algebra, I began to dread going to class. My grades dropped like a lead weight. Determined to raise my grades, I tried to figure out what was different about this course than other math classes I had taken. It finally dawned on me that prior to college, I had math class every day. Now it was only three days per week. I was spending significantly fewer hours studying and practicing mathematics. Math is like music. It must be practiced every day in order to maintain and improve your skills. I realized that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to work problems daily. I started doing math seven days a week and soon leaped to the top of the class!
I find that many students have a fear of math. One reason for this fear is that math continues to builds on itself. For example, if you have difficulty w Algebra 1, chances are unless you go back and relearn it, you will continue to struggle w Algebra 2, pre calc, etc. I realized this as I would start tutoring a student in more advanced classes, but they never understood the PEMDAS concept from Elementary school. Most schools nowadays, tend to push the kids through to higher in order to raise their ratings. My feeling is that if a child is struggling in Algebra 1 as an 8th grader, they should consider retaking the course in 9th grade. It will give them a confidence boost in math and help their GPA too. If you push them ahead, it could turn out much worse later on. Since you need a solid foundation to build a skyscraper, you should not advance in math until you understand the basic concepts. Go back and relearn them and you will move forward w understanding and will... read more
If you are a student preparing to return to school and you always hated MATH. Here are some short exercises that you can do to help you get back in the swing of things: Get familiar with IXL.com They have all the basics with good practice for you to review. They only allow you ~30 questions as day, so you can't overload yourself! Try to be aware of the math around you in your everyday life. If you can see mathematics in the world around you, it helps to motivate you to learn. Practice mental math When you are in the grocery store, instead of whipping out your calculator, try to figure out the cost per ounce in your head. Round if you need to, but get back in the habit of using math mentally every day. Read books Ok, this isn't really a "math" thing, but if you don't read books (fiction, non-fiction, classics, reference) it will be hard to transition back to shcool. Yes, reading online is okay, but much of what is... read more
Many times students look at graphics and word problems as perfect storms. If the problem is analyzed and related to a real life situation, I bet concepts should be easily understood. Today I was tutoring a senior student on Physics. She looked at a graph of time vs velocity with a question mark on her face. What I did was to place her on a real life case in which she is driving from home, speeds up, see a well known police officer in this area, so.... slowing down, then driving at constant speed (flat section of graph with acceleration = 0) and then slowing down again when getting to her friend's house before stopping. That was an AHA moment indeed!
Does this look familiar? SOLVE IF YOU ARE A GENIUS! 99% OF PEOPLE WILL GET IT WRONG! 8 = 56 7 = 42 6 = 30 5 = 20 3 = ? No doubt every time you've seen this on Facebook, it's followed by thousands upon thousands of responses, each indignant that other people are getting the wrong answer. Generally there are two or three different numbers that keep coming up, with nobody able to see how anyone else could have gotten a different answer from their own. I hate these things. These things are designed to be vague. There is no answer, or rather, there are an infinite number of answers. The crux of the issue here is that they don't define the rule. So these things are basically a weird way of presenting a function. You remember functions from my previous blog post, right? Well, essentially what this thing is saying is “you take 8, do some mystery function to it, and you get 56... read more
How to be Successful In Mathematics Math is a complicated subject. Students struggle with it, parents don’t feel comfortable helping with homework, and teachers find it impossible to “re-teach” every year. It is for these reasons that I feel having a good foundation in math is imperative. Students that have a great foundation feel confident and are not afraid of tackling a problem until they figure it out. What do students need to know to have a good foundation? Well, I think the most basic concepts they need to master are the concepts learned in pre-algebra. Most parents would be shocked to hear that students begin to learn these concepts as early as second grade. Some are those concepts include properly using the order of operations; being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide negative numbers, fractions and decimals; and working problems with more than one variable. I encounter students “freezing” all the time when they encounter fractions,... read more
I've heard this sentiment over and over--sometimes from students, and sometimes, I'll admit, in my own head. Last night, I was working on my own math homework, and there was one problem I just couldn't get my head around. I read the book, looked back at my class notes, and even sat down with a tutor for a while, and still, when I tried a new problem of the same type on my own, it just didn't work! "Maybe I'm not as good at math as I thought," I told myself. "Am I REALLY smart enough for bioengineering?" It was hard, but I told myself "YES!" And I kept working. I laid the assigned problems aside and started doing other problems of the same type from the book. I checked my work every time. Each problem took at least ten minutes to solve, and the first three were ALL wrong! I kept going. I got one right, and it made sense! I did another, and it was half right, but there was still a problem. I did another, and it was right! Eventually I had a page... read more