Last week I had a math student ask me if any of this math is ever used in the real world. I told him math equations are used to figure out purchasing, in building, advertising on computers,etc. Most people think of math as a subject that must be endured in school with no real world application. In reality math is used in every aspect of life. In a world that is becoming evermore dependent on technology, people with mathematical skills will be needed more.
Math is not just about computations, though. It is about a thought process that can recognize patterns and find multiple solutions to problems. We can take logical reasoning and apply it all areas of life. Math is also vital to science, art and music.
The article below is very insightful on the importance of math education.
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In the past year, I have been working with young adults who are trying to enter the Marines. In order to do that they must pass the ASVAB exam. The four main components are reading comprehension, word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning and math knowledge. The biggest roadblock for the recruits that I have worked with is their ability to understand the pronunciation and meaning of words as well as comprehend the word problems. When I ask if they like to read they all say no.
Exposure to both written and oral language is vital to the development of a strong vocabulary and success in school and beyond. Language development begins at birth with each interaction that a child has. The more that a child is exposed to words in print as well as new, larger words, the broader their understanding of the world will be. Some ways that vocabulary can be expanded is to have conversations with your child, using new words in familiar context so that they can understand the meaning, as well as reading together.
As children enter school, it is important that reading be encouraged as not just a school activity but as a recreational activity. One way that this can be done is to continue to share reading time, either by reading a book together or by setting aside a family reading time. Children learn from what we do. If they see that we find reading valuable by our behavior, they are more likely to form this same habit. Another way to share reading is to discuss something that you really enjoyed in a book.
Creating lifelong readers is a key to success in all areas of life!
For the past month I have been tutoring Marine recruits who are struggling with the math portion of the ASVAB test, which is required to join the military. It is really sad to see people over eighteen years of age still struggling with basic math concepts. It has inspired me to have my younger students become proficient with their basic facts so that they can spend more time learning the larger math concepts.
So why learn math facts?
- Automaticity allows you to see the numbers in your head, leading to less mental energy used.
- It allows you to manipulate numbers more easily.
- Decreases the probability of making errors in calculations.
There are many wonderful websites that make this process fun for children. One that I’ve been using is math magician. You pick the type of operation that you want to focus on and then refine the parameters that you will use. For example, I have several students who will be entering 4th grade and I want to make sure that they have their multiplication/division facts mastered. I will either pick a number that they have not mastered or one hundred mixed facts. The site provides a timer based on the test that is being taken. If they complete it in the allotted time, they receive a certificate with the percent that they correctly answered. The students really enjoy it.
Here are some websites that I have found to be useful:
Make a goal of so many minutes a day to work on facts, such as 20 minutes. This short amount of time invested will make all the difference in long term math skills.
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Have you ever come to the end of reading something and realize that you have no idea what you just read? Now imagine that happening every time that you read something! How frustrated would you feel? You would probably hate reading and soon give it up.
All too often this is what happens to children who are able to read words but are unable to retrieve any meaning from what they have read.
I just completed a class online called, “Response to Intervention (RTI): Reading Strategies That Work”, presented by Wendell Christensen. According to Christensen’s class, RTI “is a systematic, research-based, and data-driven (tool) for instruction and intervention for struggling readers.” (Lesson 1) The wonderful thing about this approach is that it can be applied to any age group.
The tool that I would like to focus on is used to help students increase their comprehension. It is called hide and seek.
Read: First, give your child a short passage to read, preferably a topic that interests them. The passage should be no longer then what they can cover with their hand.
Hide: Next, cover the words that your child has just read. Sometimes I use a sticky note or I ask my student to cover it with their own hand.
Seek: Lastly, ask your child to tell you about what they just read. If they are uncertain, ask simple questions to see if you can prompt recall. Encourage your child as they remember details. If they continue to struggle with recall, reassure them that it’s okay and that they can read it again.
The whole point of hide and seek is for your child to build their comprehension muscles. It will take time and practice but the payoff is understanding what is being read. And, hopefully, in time, a love of reading.
Teacher’s websites are a great source of information to assist your child academically. Most teachers have websites that inform you about what is going on in the classroom, the weekly schedule for specials, assignments that are due, etc. Often you can find spelling lists for the week or even the year. This is great for when your child says that they left their homework at school or that they can’t remember when something is due.
What do you do if your child’s teacher doesn’t have a website or it isn’t up to date? Check for another teacher in your child’s school that is at the same grade level. Teachers often, though not always, work together so the students are reading the same stories or working on the same math lessons. If I am working with a student and I’m not finding information on the teacher’s website, I look at a different school within the district, find the grade level and see if they have resources that will help me.
If your child’s teacher has a tab for links on it, make sure to take the time to visit it. Many textbooks now have links that allow you to go in the book and review lessons. The link will have any passwords that you need. If not, ask your child or your child’s teacher. There are also educational game links that will help to reinforce concepts in a fun way.
Thanks to the time that teachers have taken to find and list resources for you, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of these free resources to enrich your child’s education.
I was recently substituting in a 6th grade language arts class and this quote was on the door.
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book yet.”
This is so true for all readers. Trudging through a book takes all the pleasure out of reading and discourages you, especially if reading is a struggle in the first place. Finding that book that transports you to a different realm is magical. Just like finding the shoe that fits, so it is finding the right author or book. I sometimes pick books based on the title or the jacket description. Once I start reading the book, I get a feel for the author’s style of writing. If the story doesn’t hook me in the first couple chapters, I put it aside and find another book to read. Life is too short to spend time on something I don’t enjoy. In the end, isn’t that the reason for pleasure reading.
In order to grow a reader, allow them to explore the many genres and writers out there. Don’t get discouraged if they have a hard time finding a book they love. Keep offering a different selection. Share information from books that you enjoy. Check to see if the library has a monthly email newsletter announcing the new releases. Talk to friends and see what their children are enjoying. Read together! Help your children to enjoy this journey and they will never be bored or lonely.