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Improve Your Maths Marks

This article is written by  Deb Russell, http://math.about.com.

Here are some quick steps to help you get better at doing mathematics. Regardless of age, the tips here will help you learn and understand math concepts from primary school right on through to university math. Everyone can do math, be positive and follow the steps here and you’ll be on your way to seeing success in math.

Understanding Versus Memorizing

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All too often, we will try to memorize a procedure or sequence of steps instead of looking to understand why certain steps are required in a procedure. Always, always strive for understanding the why and not just the how. Take the algorithm for long division Typically, we say, “how many times does 3 go into 7” when the question is 73 divided by 3. After all, that 7 represents 70 or 7 tens. The understanding in this question really has little to do with how many times 3 goes into 7 but rather how many are in the group of three when you share the 73 into 3 groups. 3 going into 7 is merely a short cut. Putting 73 into 3 groups means understanding. The long division algorithm rarely makes sense unless the concrete method is fully understood.

Maths is Not a Spectator Sports, Get Active!

Getty ImagesUnlike some subjects, math is something that won’t let you be a passive learner. Math is the subject that will often put you out of the comfort zone, don’t worry as this is normal and part of the learning process. Try to make connections in math, many of the concepts in math are related and connected. The more connections you can make, the greater the understanding will be. Math concepts flow through levels of difficulty, start from where you are and move forward to the more difficult levels only when understanding is in place. The internet has a wealth of interactive math sites that let you engage, be sure use them.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Getty ImagesDo as many problems as is required to ensure you understand the concept. Some of us require more practice and some of us require less practice. You will want to practice a concept until it makes sense and until you are fluent at finding solutions to various problems within the concept readily. Strive for those ‘A Ha!’ moments. When you can get 7 varied questions in a row right, you’re probably to the point of understanding. Even more so if you re-visit the questions a few months later and are still capable of solving them. This too is key to understanding. Be sure to check out the worksheet section for lots of practice examples.

Additional Exercises

Getty ImagesThis is similar to practice. Think of math the way one thinks about a musical instrument. Most of us don’t just sit down and play an instrument. We take lessons, practice, practice some more and although we move on, we still take time to review. Go beyond what is asked for. Your instructor tells you to do questions 1-20, even numbers only. Well, that may work for some, but others may need to do each of the questions to reach the point of fluency with the concept. Doing the extra practice questions only helps you to grasp the concept more readily. And, as always, be sure to re-visit a few months later, do some practice questions to ensure that you still have a grasp of it.

Buddy Up!

Getty ImagesSome people like to work alone. However, when it comes to solving problems, it often helps to have a work buddy. You know the saying: two heads are better than one. Sometimes a work buddy can help clarify a concept for you by looking at it in a different way. Organize a study group or work in pairs or triads! In real life we often work through problems with others. Math is no different. A work buddy also provides you with the opportunity to discuss how you solved the math problem. And as you’ll see in this list of tips, conversing about math leads too permanent understanding and you know that understanding is key.

Explain and Question

Try to explain to somebody else how you solve math concepts. Teach a friend. Or, keep a journal. It’s often important to state either in writing or orally how you solved your math problems/exercises. Question problems, ask yourself, What would happen if…….I solved it this way because…..
Remember William Glasser’s findings:
  • 10% of what we READ
  • 20% of what we HEAR
  • 30% of what we SEE
  • 50% of what we SEE and HEAR
  • 70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS
  • 80% of what is EXPERIENCED PERSONALLY
  • 95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE

Phone a Friend …. or Tutor!

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Seek help when it’s appropriate. Don’t let yourself get stuck and frustrated. Seek extra clarification when needed, be your own advocate! Whether you have a friend or need to hire a tutor, recognize the point at which you need help – then get it! Most of us need help some of the time, if you let it go too long, you’ll discover that the math will only become more frustrating for you.

Learn how your child can benefit at his most at MathsExCEL!facebook icon 2

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Tips to Help Children Understand Maths Concepts

model-drawing-hIn any school system one finds children who excel in Maths; but one also discovers that an equal or even greater number of school children fare poorly – probably because of their failure to understand basic math concepts at a very early stage.

In this article I would like to ventilate the following tips to help children, young and slightly older ( teens in their junior and middle High School years ) ones who have difficulties grasping math concepts, resulting in them not doing what they are inherently capable of achieving in general mathematical performance.

Tip # 1: INTRODUCE MATHS CONCEPTS PROGRESSIVELY with emphasis on developing manipulative skills and activities-based learning.

It is vital that children in elementary schools be taught the fundamental math concepts involving the usual operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and fractions, proportions and percentages. Early Maths education should be as activity-based as possible: from simple additions ( putting objects together and counting them ), subtractions ( removing articles/items from a certain number of such articles/items ), multiplications ( linking addition to the ultimate concept of multiplication ) and division ( dividing a certain number of objects equally among say 2 or 3 or more children ).

Tip # 2: EMPHASIZE both THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF MATHS and the INTERESTING ASPECTS OF MATHS – hands-on and practical approach.

Many children would question why they have to learn Maths concepts like fractions, percentage, decimals, etc.; they demand to know why they are in a sense compelled to learn sometime apparently ‘useless’ and ‘abstract’ topics. It is therefore incumbent on the teacher or the parent or anyone who is interested in the child’s Maths abilities to try a hands-on and practical approach, at least at the beginning stage of learning of the more abstract topics. This necessarily requires that the learning of these ideas be associated or linked with everyday, commonplace activities.

Children could be brought to markets, both traditional and the modern ultra-modern hypermarkets – to see and experience themselves first-hand activities and visual stimuli that involve math: fractions, percentages (e.g., on signboards in departments that offer discounts), geometrical shapes of bottles ( perfumes and toiletries department ). Slightly older children could also pay visits to local banks to find out the meaning of interest rates, exchange rates, etc. – practical matters that bear some relation to what they learn in classes.

Tip # 3: EXPOSE THE CHILDREN TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF MATHS: make attempts to encourage and stimulate children to think of areas which could make use of Maths concepts.

Although children with some form of learning difficulties in Maths are generally not whiz-kids it does not mean that they all are lacking in imagination and enthusiasm. It takes a dedicated, qualified, well-trained and inspired person ( usually an educator ) to motivate these seemingly less Maths-inclined children; with appropriate approaches and methodologies, it is not impossible for educators to unearth the potential abilities of these children.

Suitable strategies can be drawn up in attempts to pique the children’s curiosity as when the teacher poses the interesting question of how Maths concepts like game theories and stochastic processes are used to forge new and novel designs in both weaponry and machinery. Children could also be guided to navigate the huge resources offered by the Internet – with its several hundreds of thousands of useful math websites; to look for interesting, interactive Maths programs that teach basic math concepts. The possibilities offered by Maths are therefore quite limitless though not immediately tangible and practicable. By encouraging children to freely voice their opinions and suggestions (however naive and improbable) on the use of Maths concepts, they realize that learning Maths can be fun and Maths is not a dull and abstract subject at all!

Your child can achieve. At MathsExCEL we guide them Step-by-Step using Model Drawing.

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Teach Your Child Problem Sums Solving

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Ever teach your child Maths Problem Sums using the Model Drawing but discover that you do  not know how to draw the diagram? If you have, you might want to know that you are not alone. Many parents are facing the same problem as you simply because you were not this way when you were young.

Model Drawing has since been widely used in the teaching of students in primary schools in Singapore. They are introduced to the method from as young as Primary One.

Students typically find word problems difficult due to several reasons:

  • they are weak in their Mathematical language;
  • they have limited understanding of the arithmetic operations;
  • they are unable to relate the known(s) to the unknown(s) when the problem structure is difficult to understand;
  • they are unable to analyse problem situations.

This method is especially useful when: you teach kids who respond better to visual stimuli (e.g. pictures, drawings, etc); you try to provide math homework help but the conventional methods do not really work well with your kids; and your kids has not learnt algebra yet and solving the math problems with algebra is not an option.

However, without proper guidance, you may not be able to experience the full benefits of the Model Drawing. The Model Drawing essentially becomes a good entry level tool to help the your child to understand and break the questions down into component parts making solving and learning math easy.

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What is a Model Drawing ?

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free-trialThe model approach requires students to draw rectangular boxes to represent part-whole relationships and Math Value. By drawing such blocks, they can visualize the math problems more clearly and are able to make tacit knowledge explicit. Word problem solving is a major part of the curriculum in Primary Mathematics in Singapore, both known and unknown values, in the Maths Problem Sums.

This technique of model building is a visual way of picturing a situation. Instead of forming simultaneous equations and solving for the variables, model building involves using blocks or boxes to solve the problem. The power of using models can be best illustrated by problems, often involving fractions, ratios or percentages, which appear difficult but if models can be drawn to show the situation, the solution becomes clearer, sometimes even obvious.

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