Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Finding my Tutoring Hat


I’m slipping back into my role as a math tutor and loving it.  I found my box of books and “toys” in the attic and sorted out what might be most useful in helping young Margalen.
I am somewhat appalled at the cookbook approach the school system uses to teach math.  There is a sequence of steps for writing a decimal number, for rounding.  If the student deviates in the least she is hopelessly lost.  And she seems to have no way of doing a reality check on the answer.
So my goal is to teach her to understand numbers.  When she says “60” in response to “4 x 4”, I want her to understand just how different that is from “16”.
We’re going to have fun along the way.  Monday we played store with that pile of coins.  She was purchasing make-believe items.  Her job was to come up with multiple ways to pay for them and to also be able to check whether the clerk (me) had given her the correct change.  These are lessons for life!
We also played a guessing game with the hundred sheet.  One person would pick a number between 1 and 100.  The other person’s job was to figure out the number with the fewest guesses.  She learned there is a better way that starting with “Is it 1?  Is it 2?…”
Next week we’ll tackle toothpick puzzles with problems like this.  

We will play with Tangoes and other fun things that make math more than just facts.
I love picking Margalen up from school on Mondays, giving her an after school snack, and then sitting down to work on piano and math.  I’m happy to be getting to know her better and hopefully to be giving her some things to make her world just a little more interesting.

8 Comments:

Blogger Cyndy said...

That sounds like such a fun way to get those math concepts across! I'm sure Margalen will make great progress with your help.

10:20 AM  
Blogger e said...

Wow...I wish I'd had you as a teacher early on...I never "got" math and did poorly in it all the way through. My hat's off to you and I hope Margalen has fun and learns more than she would at school.

Have you ever heard the term the drunkard's walk? It is a math term having to do with randomness and probability. I am starting a book by that title that seems intriguing. If you haven't read it and are interested, I'll send it along when I'm done. Funnily enough, you came to mind when I saw it at the bookstore.

Happy Chanukah!

3:31 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Hey, you must be a good teacher because you gave me some ideas here! Thanks!

Happy Hanukkah!

7:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- We're shooting for slow and steady in both piano and math!

E -- I know nothing about the drunkard's walk, or at least nothing as it pertains to mathematics. Do tell!

Gary -- You are in a whole different league than I am when it comes to teaching. I am in awe of you!

10:43 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Man, I wish you'd been MY math teacher. I am the daughter of a math teacher who could do long division in her head and I'm hopeless around numbers - they are like a foreign language to me!

I'm going to borrow your money/making change game for my second graders tomorrow - they'll love it!

6:30 AM  
Blogger karen said...

Hi Barbara. This sounds wonderful! I remember quite enjoying teaching maths (as we call it!) to our boys when I home schooled them - this brings back such memories!

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like so much fun! What great ideas. Wish I could drop in! :)

F.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Rayna said...

ditto with the candles. Usually I have some leftover from last year but this time I must have used them for birthday candles in between. Oops!
The only place that had them was Whole Foods and they were $8 (sale price). Hahahaha. So, no candles. But I did make latkes the first night.

7:48 AM  

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