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MATHLICIOUS...Mathematics + Delicious = It is supposed to be... Part One

MATHLICIOUS 

( The idea is Mathematics ought to be Delicious)

Introduction

I wrote several pieces on NewportMommy blog, and throughout my writings, I emphasized “LOGIC.” I deeply believe in Logic. I define it as a thinking step by step process that will assist students to gain an understanding of a concept. Without the ability to think step by step, a student won’t be able to analyze and critically thought of a concept, as we are aware that we can’t look in details and see a concept in many different angles without a full understanding of a concept. Therefore, I do believe in introducing a concept through an ability to think of it step by step, in organized and well-thought of a way so that a student does not merely KNOW a concept, rather a student does UNDERSTAND a concept. To instill the idea of “thinking outside the box”, we ought to “fill in inside the box” first; to learn to gain an understanding is to fill in inside the box.

Throughout my teaching years, I have heard numerous times that “mathematics” is a scary word for lots of students. Mathematics is well known as a hard, confusing, not interesting, only numbers, one of my students said, “It is not real”:) subject-- mathematics is an abstract concept by nature, and I realize, for most times, the very reason is because my students do not really understand the mathematical concept in hand. When I told my students that we can use additions to understand multiplications, it started to ease off  their fear of multiplications. When my students realized that divisions and subtractions are connected, they were ecstatic. The feeling of fear subsides because my students realize they do not always learn something completely new; they are just extending and deepening their knowledge. it is always relieving to know that we don’t have to start from zero again; it is in our human nature to be a bit skeptical on what’s new and to be a bit reluctant to start over again. Relating to this part of human nature, I am engaging my students to deal with the “emotional” part of learning mathematics through connecting between what they learned to what they are learning. I do not disguise the fact that the first time learning may not be as easy as it could be, however, pointing out the connection between the knowledge we’ve known with the knowledge that we are beginning to know will be helpful; it eases off the fear and it lights up the enthusiasm. We need this sense of enthusiasm to ignite the wanting to know, the wanting to learn, and using this sense of enthusiasm to bring about the self-confidence, the self-esteem, the “feeling good” kind of thing. It is not just about what the concept is all about, but how it is done and why it is done. It gives a purpose as why we need to learn this concept. It is not just about getting to the right answer. This quote from Margaret Mead serves a great deal of meaning of what I am doing in the classroom. She summed it up quite well. To ask children how to think, though, we need to teach on what the verb “ to think” means. Introducing the connection between concepts encourage and instill the ability “ to think”, rather than merely “ to receive” the knowledge.

I am inviting parents to see a different way or different ways of learning and teaching mathematics. Perhaps, just perhaps, by teaching and learning through connections, we are building a better understanding on the knowledge and not just merely gaining it. I am writing a 5 series of blogs that will introduce you on how to be creative, to be “delicious” in teaching and learning mathematics. To be creative and “delicious” is defined as to teach and to learn through introducing the connections between concepts to gain an understanding. To get to the right answer is ought to be A RESULT, not A GOAL for learning and teaching mathematics. 

To learn more about myself and my class, please do not hesitate to write an email or to explore the website. 

Dr. Chandra Budi

E: itworks@urltutoring.org

www.urlitworks.org

MATHLICIOUS I

Word Problem One:

There are 36 students in the classroom. Out of those 36 students, 17 of them are boys. Some boys are wearing short pants; 9 of them are wearing long pants. 

The first question is:

What do I have to do if I wanted to know the number of girls in the classroom?

  1. I need to add the number 36 to the number 17.
  2. I need to subtract the number 36 from the number 17.
  3. I need to do nothing.
  4. I need to subtract the number 17 from the number 36.

The second question is:

If I wanted to know the number of boys are wearing short pants, what are the important information I need to use from the story?

  1. The total number of students in the classroom and the number of boys are wearing long pants.
  2. The number of boys in the classroom and the number of girls in the classroom.
  3. I am not sure if we have enough information to know the number of boys who are wearing short pants.
  4. The number of boys are wearing long pants and the number of boys in the classroom.

The third question is:

How would I know for sure that I got the right answer for my first question? 

  1. I need to add the total number of boys and the number of boys who are wearing long pants.
  2. I need to subtract the number of boys who are wearing long pants from the total number of students in the classroom.
  3. I need to add the total number of students and the total number of boys.
  4. I need to add the total number of boys and the answer that I get from question one, and those answers have to be equal with the total number of students.

Note: In the mathematical language, the process to know for sure that your answer is right is called “ to proof.” If we can’t proof the answer is right, then more often than not, we either do not get the right answer or we do not really understand how to get to the right answer.

The next problem is fun and creative. It requires a student to read the problem carefully. Please encourage your child to read the problem carefully and at times, it helps when your child underlines the important information on the problem; the act of underlining gives your child ( or a student) an extra focus and an extra time to digest and understand the information, and more often than not, the extra time and focus increases the chance of obtaining the right answer.

Word Problem Two:

I have a number, and it is an odd number. There are three digits on this number. If I added all of the digits, the answer is 8. If I subtracted the ones from the other two digits, the answer is 33 and I added the ones to the other two digits, the answer is 35. What number do I have?

  1. 413
  2. 143
  3. 341
  4. 314

Numbers For Beginners

The last part of this writing is for beginners, very much beginners. The purpose is for to learn writing numbers. Often times, to learn writing could be quite boring and challenging.Tracing could be fun, but, when that brave little nudge is needed, when those tracing has to come to real writing...stories could be very helpful. Two things: first, the stories could come from you or the child could make his or her own story; second, it is okay not to be “perfect”, the most important thing is to do the best. Writing numbers is a part of beginning mathematics. To make it more fun, these are the stories I am sharing with my students:

Number 1 is easy---- it is just a stick--make any standing line and that will become number 1.

Number 2 is a sleeping line and a hook or an ear on the top of it. Some of my students love the fact that an ear is on the top of the sleeping line; some other students love the fact that a hook is on the top of the sleeping line. Or, you might be able to ask your child and she/he will give you an idea what will be on the top of the sleeping line :)

Due to the nature of “curve”, the ear or the hook could be a little challenging in the beginning, therefore please encourage your child to try it and some assistance might be needed in the beginning. 

Number 3--- I am connecting it with writing a backward “C”, one on the top of the other.  For students who love the silliness of drawing an ear, I told them, “ Let’s draw one ear on the top of each other, not side to side.”

Number 4--- there are two forms of number 4; for beginners, the form of number 4 I am using is the easier form, I call it “the upside down chair.” Or, I asked them to draw two standing lines, then in the bottom, we draw a bridge that connects the two lines, and then, we make the right line slightly longer. 

Number 5-- it has a hat;  it has a neck ; it has a big tummy     

These three components together will make a number 5; I usually write it with them as I mentioned each component of the number 5.

The basic premise stands for writing numbers: to use their previous knowledge in “drawing” and extending it to “writing.” Therefore, a child does not feel that he or she is learning something entirely new, which could be quite scary. We will do the number 6 through 10 next time.

Well....

We shall stop on the first writing out of five MATHLICIOUS series. I am inviting parents to ask questions, to write comments, and to offer suggestions. I believe in interactions, and for any blog or any kind of communication to work and be useful, we need a certain extend of empowering communication. So, please do not hesitate to write back as in the end of the day, we are all here to empower each other to prepare our children ( students) to a great learning experience, to a better future. 

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