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Math is all around us. We use math to calculate the speed of the earth rotating about its axis. We use math to calculate the radius and height of a water tank to store enough water for a town. We use math to calculate the amount of carpeting material to purchase for our houses, and we use math to calculate the amount of fabric material to purchase to sew a pillowcase for our pillows. This means that you cannot run away from math. Even the dosage of painkiller medicine that your body needs depends on your weight and the use of math. I have another example of the applications of math in our everyday lives. Movie theaters like any other for-profit business, have a budget with expenses and income columns. In order for the movie theater to break even, it needs to sell a minimum amount of tickets. This movie theater needs to sell a minimum of 100 tickets as the sum of the of tickets purchased. Also it needs to make a minimum of $100 from the sum of the tickets purchased in order to break... read more

We're going back to basics today with a Math Journey covering the three broad categories of symbols. I've found this concept very handy when introducing Algebra to middle school students. So let's go! Math is a language, and I find it often helps to think of it as such right from the beginning. Just as there are different parts of speech in a language, so there are different 'parts of speech' in math. Where a spoken language includes parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives, math has three major types of symbols: constants, operators, and variables. Let's go over each one in detail. Constants These would be the equivalent of your nouns. A Constant is a number – it has a single, discrete place on the number line. Even if the number itself is ugly – a non-terminating decimal, for example – it still does exist in a specific spot somewhere on the number line. In addition to the obvious constants, math frequently uses what I refer to as 'special constants'... read more

Happy Pi Day everyone!   In honor of the mathematical constant with the delicious name, let's revisit my Thanksgiving-themed Math Journey about storing leftover pie!  You can check it out here.   Enjoy everyone!   ~Ellen

There is no such thing as someone who doesn't get math. Instead, it is the teacher who "does not get how to teach math".   I have come across many very good teachers, and the thing that differentiates them from the less amazing ones is this: they do not have a single "tried and true" method. The teachers who do have this type of "tried and true" method always find problem students, and those students get discouraged. However, those students need to know it is not their fault.   When teaching Multivariable Calculus this past semester, which is infamous for failing engineering students at Cornell, my fellow teachers came from different backgrounds. The less experienced ones would always complain about their students "not getting it" and it was because the teachers themselves did not understand the material to a depth that they could explain the math in multiple ways to students.   In my experience, I have... read more

Often times experienced mathematicians tend to get comfortable with certain problem-solving strategies. For example, in a problem one might use a system of equations to solve a problem rather than employing a simpler more easy way to solve it. Though using system of equations are great, knowing how to solve problems using different approaches is important, not just for oneself, but for their students.   Take for example the following problem: A farmer has both pigs and chickens on his farm. There are 78 feet and 27 heads. How many pigs and how many chickens are there?   Solution 1: (Using Algebra System of Equations) 4p+2c=78 (pigs have 4 feet and chickens have 2 feet with 78 feet in total) p+c=27 (27 heads mean that the number of chicken and pigs total 27) Then by algebra p=27-c. Therefore by substitution, 4(27-c)+2c=78. 108-2c=78. 2c=30. c=15. Since, c=15, p+c=p+15=27. p=12. Therefore, the farmer has 15 chickens and 12 pigs... read more

Okay, we have all made a math mistake, but for one reason or another we never took advantage of that opportunity to commit the correct step to memory. I have news for you. You can still remedy the situation. Here is how you achieve it. 1. For every time that you’ve made a wrong step in solving a problem, repeat the correct step three times. 2. If it is a multi-step problem, WRITE all the steps in the correct order at least three times. 3. READ out all the correct steps to yourself at least three times so that you HEAR the correct steps. Here is the rationale for this strategy. We have multiple ways of learning for a reason and we need to make use of multiple intelligences in order to maximize our ability to understand and memorize the correct steps. Once we commit the correct procedure into long-term memory, we are essentially freeing our short-term memory to work on other tasks. This way we won't get stumped months later when we come across the problem. So this strategy is a win!... read more

The most requested tutoring subject is MATH! Many students struggle with math (algebra, geometry, calculus) because there is no easy way to learn it. It is nice to have someone to break it down for you and talk you through your problems. But, what happens when you do not have your tutor next to you?!?!   PANIC?! OF COURSE NOT!   Although it is my duty for you to have a firm grasp on the math concepts, I may not always be there when you need me (of course, I will always try =)). What I used as a math student and what I use as a math tutor is a study "cheat-sheet" guide. I would make my own cheat sheets that broke down steps and had formulas with explanations of what each variable meant. This was a HUGE HELP when learning new concepts or having to remember old concepts for a final exam.   As you continue to learn new concepts, you add it to your cheat sheet. These should be very short blurbs like a formula or a short example of the problem... read more

One of the main complaints that students have when struggling with their math homework is that they don't understand why they need to learn this in the first place.  After all, how often do we actually use calculus or trigonometry in our daily lives?   I always make an effort to correct this false assumption in my students.  Everything that we learn in math connects to reality in often unexpected ways.  For this reason, I like to find out what it is that interests my student, or what their career goals are, so that I may show them how the math connects.   Take the example of logarithms.  For the student with an ear for music, I can explain how logarithmic scales describe the relationships between musical tones, and true understanding of musical theory requires an understanding of this field of math.  For the student who plans to go into the medical field, logarithms can be used to help model the levels of medications in a patient's... read more

There has been a link circulating recently through social media (Link below). The link describes a story in which a teacher told a student that an answer was wrong on a common core math quiz. A very loud debate has erupted in regards to Common Core Math and it's role in the education system. Some stand to defend it, and others are very much against it due to its "confusing nature." I believe that Common Core is simply not being used properly within the education system, which is why such stories described in the article exist.   I am very passionate about the debate on Common Core Math and its role in the education system. Though it is the center of much confusion and debate, Common Core is not all together bad. The issue with Common Core Math is not that the methods themselves are bad; instead, the issue resides in the fact that teachers and school boards have not been taught the actual purpose of Common Core and have not been properly trained on how to use... read more

1) THE BASE: Ask yourself where you want to start. A building is strongest and most stable at the base. So that being said, you want to build a strong and stable foundation on the subject you want to learn. Concepts, rules, understanding play a big role when learning a subject. Grasping the fundamental ideology of a subject is the beginning of formulating the bases of understanding the core concepts. So in other words get a general picture of the subject and read the history behind it.   2) START SMALL BUT BROAD: Every subject has a broad category and a specific category. The more in-depth you go, the more confusing it can become if you don't have the general knowledge or a broad understanding of that subject. For example, you're not going to understand Calculus 2 without learning Calculus. Or understand how your brain creates memories or thoughts without understanding neurons. So by researching, reading, and analyzing the broad categories of the subject you can learn... read more

1) THE BASE: Ask yourself where you want to start. A building is strongest and most stable at the base. So that being said, you want to build a strong and stable foundation on the subject you want to learn. Concepts, rules, understanding play a big role when learning a subject. Grasping the fundamental ideology of a subject is the beginning of formulating the bases of understanding the core concepts. So in other words get a general picture of the subject and read the history behind it.   2) START SMALL BUT BROAD: Every subject has a broad category and a specific category. The more in-depth you go, the more confusing it can become if you don't have the general knowledge or a broad understanding of that subject. For example, you're not going to understand Calculus 2 without learning Calculus. Or understand how your brain creates memories or thoughts without understanding neurons. So by researching, reading, and analyzing the broad categories of the subject you can learn... read more

WHAT: Does the student know what they are trying to learn? Some classes move so fast that they don't even know what topic they are on anymore. WHERE: Does the student know where to apply what it is that they are learning? WHEN: Does the student know when to apply what they are learning? They may understand what they are doing, but do not know when to use it. WHY: Does the student know why they are doing what they are doing? Do they know why the answer is right? This is the most important question. Does the student actually comprehend or are they just repeating? HOW: Does the student know how to apply what they have learned at any given time? Do they know how to use these tools they were given in everyday life?   I want to have the answer to all of these questions an unhesitating "YES"    

Never have I ever done a tutoring job like this before.  I am looking forward to partaking in this website and venture as a side job because it seems like a reasonable way to generate income on the side without stressing yourself out. I'm looking forward to teaching kids and passing on my knowledge of subjects through tips and tricks to make their learning easier, like it did for myself.  Most of all, I can't wait to see the results from my students when they receive their grades or start to perform better at the sports I coach them in.

    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

On Friday my TV broke. Kind of a bummer, but we'd had it for many years and it was time for it to go. Now we needed to get a new one, so we headed out to the store. In the process of our search, we realized that our old TV was at the extreme smaller end of the TVs they now sell, so we were going to need to buy a bigger one. We found one we liked, that was only slightly bigger than our old one. The big question, though, before we plunked down our hard-earned cash, was this: would it still fit on our entertainment center? Our current TV was sold as a 40-inch model, and the one we liked was 43-inch. However, TVs are measured across the diagonal, not the width, so we needed to know what the actual width would be. My hubby got out a tape measure, and I got out a pencil and paper. He measured our 40-inch TV across the diagonal and found that 40 was actually just the screen size; the full diagonal with the frame was 42.5 inches. We knew the new one's frame was no larger... read more

If you intend to write for more than 30 minutes, please consider using a text editor like Microsoft Word or Notepad. That way, you can copy and paste your finished post into the submission form and not risk losing your work because of a timeout.

We all have one: that one subject that our brains just refuse to understand, and no matter how much we study or how hard we work, we never feel like we really truly GET what is going on.   For me, that subject was always Physics. No junior high or high school teacher could ever answer the unending string of "...but WHY?" questions that I needed answered before I could understand even the most basic concepts of our Introductory course. It wasn't that I couldn't understand, but rather that I wasn't being taught these ideas in a way that made sense to me.    As an adult, Physics is now actually one of my favorite subjects to read about because I have found some books written for people just like me, people who need explanations fulls of examples and explanations and lots of pictures! I may never discover black holes or split an atom, but I now know enough that I can understand the people who do those things. :-)     So,... read more

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