Showing posts from November, 2012

"The Geometry of a Chocolate"

The following is a talk from TEDx. It is re-posted here to provide a refreshing vision of teaching math in primary and secondary schools:
From Bring technology and chocolate into the classroom: Nigel Nisbet at TEDxOrangeCoastDespite the technological growth of the past century, test scores have barely risen. Nigel Nisbet believes that technology in the classroom today isn't being used to its full potential and demonstrates techniques to promote active learning through virtual lessons. "Math is the new literacy for the 21st Century", says Nigel Nisbet. Armed with a degree in mathematics, and early success as a rock musician, Nigel began his education career teaching at an idyllic private all-girls school in rural England. After moving to theU.S., he taught Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science at Van Nuys Senior High, pioneering the use of technology in the classroom, and project-based learning. Leaving the classroom in 2006, he became a Mathematics Specialist for t…

Finding Space and Time to Learn at Home

Providing a child both space and time to read and learn is one of the suggestions made by Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology at Duke University and a leading researcher on homework. It is widely accepted that factors outside school can affect learning and at times, these external factors may have a heavier influence than teachers do. Growing up, I did not have a room of my own, but my parents made sure that I had enough space and opportunity to go over my studies. In fact, my mother sometimes would wake me up as early as four in the morning to study and review. I got also excused from household chores like washing dishes or cleaning the floors if I had an assignment to finish.  School supplies were limited but I managed by not wasting. Books were limited and of course, there was no internet then, but I managed by copying what I read from books that I could find in libraries or in my friend's homes. I used to envy those homes that had an encyclopedia. Without copiers and per…

Which Scientific Findings are Applicable to Basic Education?

I recently read a commentary by Dr. Leonardo L. Leonidas, "Jump-starting our kids' math ability" on the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The commentary made the following claim: Chinese children in grade school and high school are more advanced in counting and in math. There are many reasons for this fact, and one big advantage of Chinese children is their language.By far, their language depicting numbers is simpler. The Chinese have only 10 one-syllable words that can be used in combination to form higher numbers. From one to 10, the words are: yi (one), er, san, si, liu, wu, qi, ba, jiu, and shi (10).In English, there are 29 words needed to express numbers. Many of the English word numbers are even of two syllables, such as seven, fourteen, sixteen, etc.... Well, here is my reaction.

My son is currently in first grade and some of the activity worksheets we use to teach him addition and subtraction look like the one below:
Sample worksheet downloaded from http://www.math-aid…

Digital Divide: Poor and Rich Children

How technology can enhance learning is quite a large area to study. One part involves classroom media and various technological applications to improve presentations and lectures. Other efforts center on developing learning materials that can be delivered to students via the internet. Technology can be used likewise to extend the reach of excellent teachers by broadcasting their lectures and creating virtual conferences that will allow for live interaction between a teacher and a remote classroom.

On top of all of these, the technology we now have also provides an entirely new social medium in which relationships can be established. The internet enables us to network with each other with so much ease. We are able to share information, moments and photographs instantly. Facebook, as an example, has indeed become a gigantic meeting place where one can share what one has just read, what one has just seen, what one has just heard. Electronic mails as well as messages or posts no longer re…

Teaching Math and Science = Teaching Patient Problem Solving

We currently live in a world of "soundbites". Our span of attention continues to shrink as we watch shows on LED screens. With problems, we always look for quick solutions. Buying furniture from IKEA can be quite challenging. Finding the right pieces and assembling them in the correct order can sometimes take hours. But when we finally assemble that cabinet or entertainment center, we feel proud of our accomplishment. There are indeed problems worth solving. These are the ones that make us feel that we have made something.

Dan Meyer, a math teacher, points out that current ways of teaching math and science have lost the element of a challenge and therefore deprived students of a sense of accomplishment. He cites five symptoms of poor math instruction in classrooms:
lack of initiativelack of perseverancelack of retentionaversion to word problemseagerness for formula All of these symptoms reveal a lack of patience. Unfortunately, to address these problems, we apply quick solutio…