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Posts Tagged as "summer"

How to learn math when you’re in the car

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Do you find that your son or daughter is rocking out with their math facts and formulas – and then at the end of the summer, it’s like they’ve never heard of the nines times table? Or are you worried that your kid’s been trying to learn their math facts all year long, and it’s just not clicking?

A great way to learn or review math facts and formulas over the summer is to use math songs!

No worksheets. No flash cards. No silence.

What?? Yes. I do this myself frequently with my students to help them memorize and recall essential material easily, while having fun.

Whether you’re just listening, singing along with the recording, or belting them at the top of your lungs while you’re unloading the groceries (realizing you’ve unwittingly memorized them), math songs are a great way to move these key concepts deep into your long-term memory.

You can download them on your mp3 player and listen to them in the car while driving to the pool, going to ballet class or hockey camp, and even while you’re on a big family road trip.

I’ve listened to a lot of math songs on a quest to find ones that don’t suck and don’t insult my musical intelligence (or my students’ musical intelligence). Here are my three current favorite math song sources:

Rockin’ the standards. A school teacher created short, awesome, totally rockin’ songs for the times tables, concepts like mean, median, and mode, and shapes like quadrilaterals and triangles. Totally worth the price of the download (here) – or you can listen to them for free on youtube.


Multiplication hip-hop for kids.
If you’re more into rap than rock, these hip hop songs offer a great way to memorize the times tables up through the 12s. (“We don’t cry – we multiply!”)

An awesome music video about pi. This beautiful video has a super catchy song that helps students easily remember the first six digits of pi, with verses that explain where pi comes from and what it means. It is also really fun to do the chorus call and response with your kid!

This video also tends to be a great conversation starter for students who are new to the concept of pi. And it’s a big confidence booster to know not just the first three digits—which most kids learn—but the first six digits—which most people never learn!

Do you really want your kid not just to be singing their math facts loud and proud, but also using their math facts and formulas in ways that are meaningful and intuitive to them?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get really clear about what’s going on with your kid’s math situation and explore whether or not it would be a fit for us to work together.

Related posts:
Surface area of a cylinder song
What does pi sound like?
What a Balinese dancing queen taught me about praise and encouragement

Posts Tagged as "summer"

How to use the summer to catch up in math or get ahead – without burning out or going crazy (part 2)

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Are you excited about using the summer vacation as an awesome opportunity to do some serious math review or really get ahead? But does it feel kind of crazy overwhelming scary to do all that math without any structure – and to do it all alone?

In my last article, I talked about three simple ways to really learn a lot of math over the summer – starting with clarifying your goal, getting materials that you really enjoy working with, and being sure to get feedback as you go. In this article, I’m going to share three more special tips that I use with my own clients over the summer so they can walk into their first math class in the fall knowing deep inside that they’ve totally got it down and they are ready to do their absolute best.

Here we go!!

4. Pace and schedule yourself.
To make sure you reach your goal, you want to pace and schedule yourself so you know you’re on track to meet your goal before school starts.

Before you do anything else, go through and mark off on your calendar when you’ll be taking time OFF from working on math because you’re on vacation, at camp, or just having a weekend. This will make sure you don’t burn out and also that you don’t get resentful or cranky about working hard over the summer. You’ll get more done if you plan to take breaks than if you work every single day. If nothing else, be sure to take at least one full day off every week.

Once you’ve marked off your time OFF, estimate how long it will take to do each section or chapter that you decided is part of your goal of what you want to cover.

Then, schedule these sections onto your calendar, so you break your summer-long goal into smaller weekly and monthly goals. Be sure to leave a couple extra weeks that you’re not on vacation at the end of the summer, so in case it takes longer than you expect, you still have time to meet your goal.

5. Adjust your plan as necessary. Sometimes mastery just takes longer than expected. Remember, it’s OK to adjust the plan. If you find yourself taking more time to really internalize the material than you planned, adjust your pacing so you spend a little more time on math each week to meet your summer goal.

Or if you’re coming up to the beginning of the school year and you’ve still got a ton of stuff to learn, if you are really committed and focused and willing to put the time in, you can still get a lot done. (I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming article!)

6. Be sure to get support.
When you’re working to learn math independently over the summer, make sure you have someone to go to when you get stuck and can’t figure something out, even though you’re trying your best. This could be a parent, sibling, classmate, or friend. Being able to talk things out with someone you feel safe with will only help you meet your goal, and also give you good practice for explaining your ideas to others! (Because your classmates and friends are totally gonna want you to explain things to them when they see how much math you know from your summer math practice!!)

If you don’t have someone in your life you feel like you can turn to with your questions, or you don’t have someone who can explain things in a way that makes sense to **you**, I’d be happy to explore whether or not it would be a good match for us to work together!

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

Related posts:
How to use the summer to catch up in math or get ahead – without burning out or going crazy (part 1)
Got the summer math packet blues? Try some purplemath!
I was a t(w)eenage scheduling gladiator
Do you overlook yourself? Mindset lessons from the NYC Highline (and Moneyball)

Posts Tagged as "summer"

How to use the summer to catch up or get ahead in math – without burning out or going crazy (part 1)

Monday, July 13th, 2015

2015-07-08_2021

Math in the summer can be an exciting, refreshing adventure… complete with exciting hair adornments!
#gideonputnam #saratogaspringsstatepark #yesimadethatfascinatormyself

When I was growing up, I did something pretty crazy one summer. I knew if I took Functions (also known as Pre-Calculus or Trigonometry, depending on your school curriculum), it would be with the math teacher I had for algebra 1, who was so confusing to me that I cried myself to sleep over my math homework many, many times the year I took his class.

I was so determined not to repeat that experience of working with that teacher that I decided to teach myself functions over the summer so I could skip his class entirely. So basically everywhere I went that summer I took my functions textbook with me, and I taught myself from it. It was one of the most powerful math learning experiences I ever had.

Since doing this when I was 15, I’ve helped a lot of other students use the summer to courageously and effectively catch up and recover from serious end-of-year math confusion and disappointment, as well as to prepare to skip ahead into a higher level of math.

The summer offers such a juicy opportunity to work outside the pressure, goals, structure, and rhythms of the regular school year. But it’s important to create your own structure, goals, and rhythms that work for you, so you can actually meet your goal without burning out! Here are six simple tips (three in this article, and three more in the next) to help you do the exact same thing!

1. Examine and clarify your goals. Get super specific. Is your goal to catch up? To get ahead? Or both? Do you want to cover material from specific chapters? (Like chapters whose tests you didn’t do so well on?) Do you want to master an entire school year’s worth of math? Do you want to get familiar with a really weird new curriculum in advance, so you don’t have to dive into it sight unseen in the fall? Are you preparing for a placement test? Are you hoping to bump up into a higher level class, like an honors class? Get as clear as you can on this.

2. Get materials that really work for you. Once you know your goals, get materials that really feel good to you, that you genuinely enjoy using.

If you’re aiming to get ahead, get a copy of the math book from the upcoming year. If your school won’t lend you one for the summer, you can buy just about any textbook off of Amazon that you could possibly desire. It can be very psychologically reassuring to know you’ve already worked on the exact material that you need to know in September.

If you’re aiming to review or catch up, it can help to use a combination of the textbook from the previous year with a new textbook that feels like a better fit to give you extra practice and a different perspective. But if you had a terrible experience with a textbook or looking at your old textbook just about triggers post traumatic stress disorder or makes you feel like a failure, just get a textbook that you like more and don’t worry about using the old one. There are hundreds of math textbooks out there, so there’s no need to suffer or settle for what you’ve been given to use in school.

If you’re preparing for a placement test, be sure to get a copy of the study guide or practice test from your school. Keep in mind that those materials probably won’t be enough to really review anything that feels shaky or master anything new – they’ll probably only give you one or two problems max for each problem type you’re responsible to know. So be sure to also get a textbook that gives you lots of extra practice for each type of problem that’s on the study guide, so you can do enough of each problem type that it starts to feel really automatic.

3. Get feedback. Even if you’re working completely independently, be sure to get feedback on your work as you go so you know whether or not you’re practicing correctly. Otherwise it can be super easy to do a bunch of work and not even realize that you’re practicing things the wrong way!!

To start, be sure to check the answers as you go. If you’re working from a textbook, aim to do the odd problems, which almost always have answers given in the back of your book. If you’re using materials from your school, check the study guide answer key you got from your school.

If you want to get answers or worked-out solutions to the even problems in your book, some math books offer a solutions manual that you can find and buy on Amazon, too. That way you can get even more feedback from the textbook that you’re working with.

If you find you want more feedback than you can get from the answer key in the back of the book just telling you if you got the answer right or wrong, and you’re craving something more interactive, personalized, and emotionally supportive, I’d be happy to explore whether or not it would be a good fit for us to work together!

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child. I’m excited to explore this with you!

Related posts:
Case study: a rising 8th grader masters her summer math packet
Got the summer math packet blues? Try some purplemath!
When a math problem just takes for-EV-ah (tips for parents)

Posts Tagged as "summer"

Case Study: A Rising 8th Grader Masters Her Summer Math Packet

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

When this student came to me this past June, she had been invited to take a placement test in the fall to see if she would place into an honors math class, and wanted help pacing herself on her summer math packet.

I just found out that she placed into honors, and she was so excited when she told me that she screamed on the phone! I am SO proud of her hard work and persistence!

Here’s how we made it happen:

Openness and Trust. Throughout our sessions together, this student was extremely transparent about what she did and didn’t understand. This was enormously helpful, especially because while we thought the summer math packet consisted of review only, it turned out that a ton of material was stuff that this student had never learned. Her willingness to tell me whether she was elated or frustrated–frequently with a self-deprecating sense of humor–helped us build camaraderie and also made our work together much more effective.

Which brings us to…Adjust as you go. When we realized that we had a lot of material to cover from scratch, instead of just reviewing, we adjusted the plan and decided to meet more frequently.

Break it down. The packet was extra-challenging because each page was like a tossed salad, blending problems from all different parts of the curriculum. While this is a great strategy to use when you’re reviewing material, it is not an effective way to learn something new.

So we backtracked, and my student learned one prerequisite skill at a time, practicing it thoroughly until it felt comfortable and automatic. Then, we combined these skills in more complex problems, gradually building up to problems as hard as the ones in the packet.

Practice outside of sessions. I also gave this student individualized worksheets that gave her a chance to practice and internalize the skills we were working on, with answer keys so she could check her work as she went (instead of waiting to talk to me and then finding out that she had practiced something the wrong way). This was especially important because it was the summer and she wasn’t getting a regular dose of math from a school math class.

Feedback on solo work. After building up her skills, my student worked independently on chunks of the packet at the time. This way she got comfortable with problem sets where different kinds of problems are juxtaposed on one page, just like they would presumably be on the placement test. Then, when we worked together, we would go over all of her work so she knew she was on the right track.

Which brings us to, “What did I do wrong?” At first, my student just seemed annoyed with herself when she made a mistake, but I really emphasized to her that it’s okay if you make a mistake as long as you take the time to ask yourself why and learn from it. Scrutinizing and learning from errors gradually went from being an irritating chore to just a routine and helpful part of the learning process.

Enthusiasm. More than any other student I’ve ever worked with, this one has a great appreciation for mathematics’ dramatic resonance and poetic potential. When she learned how to find the solution to a system, she said that that would be a great name for a band. Frequently she remarked that new concepts we were going over would make the premise for a great science fiction story.

Her gleeful excitement about the greater meaning of what she was learning seemed to help her take the tough stuff more in stride, because even the “annoying” math procedures were part of something that was exciting to her.

Parental backup. The best tutoring happens when everyone works together as a team, and this student’s mom was totally focused on the process of learning. She made sure that her daughter completed assignments in between sessions (especially important during the summer). She asked me thoughtful questions about the material and her daughter’s progress that showed me she herself was deeply engaged with her daughter’s math material.

Because she was so organized and also willing to re-learn math and ask questions about the parts she wasn’t sure about, she was also a great role model to her daughter. Her involvement and support was instrumental in her daughter’s success.

I was so thrilled to hear that this student had rocked her placement test and placed into honors! Hooray!

***Update: I just found out today (12/7/2011) that my student got an A for the trimester in her honors math course! I love it when students become completely self-sufficient and continue to succeed after they “graduate” from tutoring. Hooray!!

Related posts:
The Rhyme and Reason of Making Mistakes
Five fun ways to help your kid learn math this summer
Case Study: An ADHD Student Raises Her Grade from a D to an A
Case Study: Regaining Love of Math

Posts Tagged as "summer"

Got the summer math packet blues? Try some Purplemath

Friday, July 15th, 2011

This goes out to all the kids who are working on summer math packets without having a textbook to refer to. If you need a good online math reference, I highly recommend Purplemath (one of my personal favorite math websites).

This site has a GREAT lessons index so you can quickly find the exact topic you need. The lessons (written-out explanations) are very thorough and easy to follow. They’re not written like a math book, but like having someone really smart and kind explain things to you in a conversation. The lessons do an excellent job of going over concepts AND steps, integrating the “what do I do?” with the “why it works!”

The site also features community forums sorted by level—starting with arithmetic and going all the way up to trigonometry. So if you have a math question, you can post it in the appropriate forum and get help from other community members. Elizabeth Stapel, the founder of purplemath, frequently responds to students’ posts in the forum herself!

Thank you, Elizabeth Stapel, for this totally user-friendly and expert site!

Related Posts:
The best algebra book in the world?
I am SO EXCITED about Math U See!
Q&A with Danica McKellar, author of Hot X: Algebra Exposed!
Five fun ways to help your kids learn math this summer (online!)

Posts Tagged as "summer"

Five fun ways to help your kids learn math this summer (online!)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

2010-06-30_1644

I’m totally psyched! I have a new guest post up on mashable about five of my favorite fun technologies to help kids learn math over the summer — technologies which involve incorporate hip-hop, wailing rock guitar solos, talking calculators, brain science, and pirates.

So if you’ve ever dreamed of helping your kids learn their times tables by rapping, or just want to find some fun new ways to help your kids learn math this summer, click on over and check it out!

Related Posts:
Tips for how to help your kid with their math homework
The best algebra book in the world?
How to find a good math tutor
Be yourself, do what you want, wear what you love (Ada Lovelace/Coder Barbie Follow-Up)