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Michelle (not her real name, of course) is a bright, energetic 5th-grader. She is super-smart (and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up), but unfortunately she has a perception disorder that makes her jumble up letters and words when she reads or writes. (Special glasses help). She was doing very badly in math (especially word problems, as you can imagine), and her parents were in despair. It took several sessions and a lot of discussion with her mom to understand where she was having trouble and come up with ways to help her work-around those challenges. One thing I discovered right away was that she did not know her multiplication tables! (I can’t tell you the number of students I have taught, even in high school, who do not have a good handle on their multiplication tables...) Here she was facing division problems, fractions, and factoring, and she did not have the basic tools needed to handle those. So the first thing we did was made her some multiplication... read more

  For the 8th consecutive year, all the students whom I tutored for the New York State Common Core examinations, have passed.  All have been promoted to the next grade, and or graduated.  Some of the students have received Academic Awards from their schools.  Tutoring takes much diligence, patience and determination.  There may be good and bad days, depending on how the students feel, but we did it.  I could not have done it without the parents, who are committed to their children's success.  I am very delighted.

In mathematics, word problems have been known to pose challenges for elementary school students, middle school students and even some high school students. In addition, a vast majority of students also have difficulties with solving problems with fractions. If we mix a word problem with a problem with fractions, then we end up getting an even tougher problem to solve. How can we expect those students who have not yet mastered language to make meaning of word problems? Let's dive right into a math word problem which will illustrate this.    Problem: Tashira has a piece of lace material that is 3/5 yard long. She used 2/3 of the material to make a quilt. How much did she use to make the quilt?   When a student reads this problem one of the questions she/he may ask is, "Where do I start?" The student may have difficulty with translating the word problem into its mathematical representation. The next difficulty is that if the student decides... read more

In my experience with elementary level students, I am constantly amazed by these kids imagination. However when it comes to math i find myself frustrated that their minds wander so much. Sometimes i want to just be like, "Super man and unicorns are not a part of math! pay attention!!!!" Reality is, that just doesn't help. I began trying to revamp my ways of teaching so that super man could join us in our lessons. I found that using examples that incorporate the child's imagination works wonders. They being to laugh and enjoy themselves when I am tutoring them and the best part is....THEY PAY ATTENTION! The fun examples also help them to remember math concepts when they go to take their tests. It is a win win for everyone. A basic example could be "superman already saved 4 people last week but this week he saved 5 more people from a burning building! So how many people has he saved?" We have taken a basic 4+5=9 math problem and made it fun for them. Sometimes... read more

    There are so many great math curricula out there.  Some are very heavy on drills: and who can deny that drills are extremely important?  Others are wonderful at demonstrating concepts....the thought processes behind working out problems.  Drills can easily bore a student to death and make them feel like math is a punishment, rather than an interesting investigation.  However, they seem to have some mastery of math when, in reality, they don't understand the language of math. Some children pick up on concepts so quickly that a teacher or parent begins to think the student is a prodigy and is past the drills. So the teacher tends to "zoom" through lessons, allowing the student to lose important ground that has already been gained.  Eventually, this leads to a halt in the student's progress.      Obviously, this means that both concepts and drills are equally important, and a tutor should never sacrifice one for the other... read more

When I tutor 4th and 5th graders, sometimes I share with them that all everyone really needs to know in life mathematically is a 6th grade level of math.  Then, I hedge that it's still good to know more, just as it's good to be stronger than one needs to be to carry out most tasks!  But a 6th grade level of math is critical for being a good steward and a good citizen and tragically many lack it.  It's not unlike a form of blindness that can too easily be taken advantage of and I like to see my work as helping folks believe they can see better!   But beyond that, I wonder what our world would be like if we all got and used a 6th grade level of mathematics? What would our election campaigns be like if everyone was scrutinizing both sides budget plans and demanding more detail and reasoning than the vague statements politicians prefer to say... Maybe Europe or Asia might give us clues???  But big ideas like these are part of what motivates me...

After answering some questions on the WyzAnt Resources Answers message board, I feel there is a need to explain all the equivalent ways we can interpret the above laundry list of notions that repeatedly come up in Elementary Mathematics...   This equivalence is a key point in the COMMON CORE CURRICULUM for mathematics.   Understanding equivalences and conceptual relationships in mathematics is the major goal of the common core!     Let's start with percents, because these perhaps cause the most confusion...what does per-cent actually mean??   Well, 'centi' is a prefix used to represent 100...a centennial happens every 100 years...a centimeter is 1/100th of a meter.   So if we talk about 50%=50per-cent, that is the equivalent of 50 per 100...a ratio of 50:100, or a fraction 50/100=1/2.   It can also be thought of as 50 parts per whole 'cent'...or 50 parts per 100... Think of this as analogous... read more

The two rules for rounding numbers are Round your numbers only once (in one step), and Round 5's to the nearest even digit -- up or down as needed.   Below I explain why.   In school they usually teach you to round all 5's up to the next digit. For example, 1.45 is rounded to 1.5, 1.65 is rounded to 1.7, 3.225 is rounded to 3.23, etc.   This is wrong because it introduces what we call "systematic error": an error consistently wrong in one direction. In rounding all 5's up, you end up with an average that is too high. ("Random error" goes high or low of the true value randomly, so the average is close to the real value.)   The reason is that 5 is directly in the middle of the digits we round, so we must round it up half the time, and down half the time.   To make this more clear, look at the digits we round to another number: 1, 2, 3, 4 we round down. 6, 7, 8, 9 we round up. (0 we just truncate,... read more

There are several points in grade school that involve a critical shift in the thinking that is required in the school work.  Parent's should be aware of these points as they navigate through the abyss of raising a school-aged child and supporting the child as he/she moves forward through the grades.   3rd Grade - The third grader is transitioning from whole number thinking into understanding the concepts of parts.  They are exposed to fractions, decimals and percentages.  This is a major paradigm shift.  Students are also exposed to long division at this point.  Supporting children in this phase requires an emphasis on helping the child conceptualize whole things being split into parts.  In addition to homework support, tutoring, and supplementary work, parents should introduce cooking chores to children at this time, and make them follow a recipe that has precise measurements.  Reading comprehension and writing is also an issue here... read more

I am very excited about the opportunity to work with your child or children. I love to take students from where they are and bring them up from there!  I have over 10 years elementary teaching experience from prekindergarten to fifth grade!  I love working with math and reading with students. I love watching a child's eyes light up when they learn something new!  I always try to use different strategies with students to match their learning style.  I would love to add your child to my tutoring profile!  I have availability this summer and fall during the weekdays and can also on some weekends! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 

Hi All:)   My favorite resources found online vary greatly, in regards to which subject help is needed in. For math intermediate level and down, and can be very useful. Although I don't tutor in Physics currently, is a good online resource to help a student get kind of warmed up before learning a new lesson. For any elementary topics, is a good resource. All of these are free and easily found. Also, simply typing in your subject of interest followed by practice problems, can guide to a large exploration of online help 24/7.

  "I can't do this.  Why do I need to know this anyway?  Can't we just use the computer to do this?"   We have all heard this from someone; ourselves, our spouses, friends and all too often we hear this from our children. We have seen math as a difficult subject for our generation and now we are seeing math become even more "frustrating", "boring", and "intimidating" for many of our children.  We have tried collaboration, individual tutoring and even extra home work as a means toward improvement.  But many of our efforts are met with failure, anger and even tears.  What is the key to overcoming the math "Mount Everest"?  While there is no band aid for healing math confusion, there are tips and strategies that are fundamental in changing your child's view of math and developing "number sense".   Math Must Make Sense The most important thing is to remember that math... read more

By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety.   For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction crisis... read more

Here are some of my favorite Math resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. As a note, college-level math textbooks are often helpful for high school math students. Why is that? Isn't that a little counter-intuitive? Yes, it would appear that way! However, many college-level math textbooks are written with the idea that many college students may not have taken a math class in a year or more, so they are written with more detailed explanations. This can be particularly helpful for high school students taking Algebra, Geometry, and Trig. I have a collection of college-level math books that I purchased at a local used bookstore. The most expensive used math book I own cost $26 used. Books that focus on standardized test prep (such as the SAT, AP, or GED prep) can be helpful for all core subjects, as they summarize key ideas more succinctly than 'normal' textbooks. These are GREAT... read more

I use this "trick" with students who know their basic math but need to increase their speed and accuracy. I play "math war". It is based on the card game war, but builds math speed. The basics:   Remove all face cards (leave the Aces) Deal the cards as you would in the game "war" Players flip the top card and the first player to call out the sum of the cards wins that round Count the number of cards at the end.   The best thing is that it can be modified to "odds/evens" (is the sum odd or even) or even multiplication.   They can build their speed and still play the game. It can be modified to more than 2 players or many other ways.   Hope this helps and gives some ideas   Mike

Hi,   I would be honored in having the opportunity of working with students and parents. The education and success of students are very important to me and I would love to do what I can to help. I am a math and education major with an Associate's of Arts and Teaching Degree from Lee College and I am seeking a teaching career. I live in the Baytown area and I am not able to provide my own transportation due to the fact that I have a disability which prevents me from driving, so I can only rely on public transportation and I am limited to how far I can travel. Therefor, communication is much needed. I am available until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone needing a private tutor, please contact me. I would be happy to help you at any time.

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often treat social... read more

Hello everyone, it's been a while since I updated this blog, but I'd like to give a few tips to parents for helping their kids get ready for multiplication and division.   If you are introducing the concept of multiplication:   Explain to your child that multiplication is an easy way add up the same number   Example: You could take a whole bunch of pencils, let's say 6, and split them up into three groups of two.   Have the child add each of the groups up:   ||     +      ||        +     || 2      +      2         +     2  = 6   Now, explain to the child, that multiplying is taking all the plus signs and replacing it with (x)   To construction the... read more

Here's a sample addition problem of 2 2-digit numbers:        36 + 48      Referring to that problem above, on a piece of paper, I would make 6 and 8 dots for the place value of ones and 3 and 4 vertical lines for the place value of tens.  This would help any kid understand the structure of each number so that he or she could learn how to add them.  To prove that the digits with the lowest place value of ones have to be added first, I would show the kid that this is done by first adding the one-digit numbers, 6 and 8 in the problem above, of the smallest pieces which are dots.  Then, if the sum is at least 10, this will verify that 10 dots are put together to make a vertical line for an extra ten called a carry that will be added to the original group of tens and thereby regroup; nevertheless, the number of remaining dots is kept and is therefore the final digit in the ones place of the sum.  Next,... read more

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