Math Wrap Up

Math Wrap Up

December 2, 2013

As the year is wrapping up and I look at all that I have learned over 2013, with regards to working with parents, teachers and students in math, there are three things I would like to emphasize.

Three Positive Finding in Mathematics

1. Believe that you are a math person: Attitude is everything! It isn’t so much that you need a positive attitude towards math, it is that you need to not have a negative attitude. Math anxiety affects students’ performance, not surprisingly, but the onset of this anxiety can be around fourth grade and that anxiety can be brought about by the people who are around this child, especially parents and teachers. It is found that anxiety is more profound in gender to gender relationships. “The more anxious female teachers were about math, the more likely the girls in their classes were to endorse negative stereotypes about females’ math ability.”

2. Math ability is obtained from hard work, not from genetics. I hear it all the time from parents that bring their child in to get help in math, “I was never a good math student.” Hence why Johnny is not a good math student. But research doesn’t back this up. Math ability is more about effort than genetics. Yes, there are some of those rare math geniuses like Einstein. But even Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with the problem longer.”, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” And “Don’t worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I assure you mine are still greater.” Math is work and being good at math takes time. I often tell teachers that math isn’t about the speed in which it is done but the thought that goes into it. But so early on in the students young life math is a timed test. We want students to think and learn strategies to help understand numbers and putting in the hard word to figure it all out.

3. Knowledge of Fractions and Long Division Predicts Long-Term Math Success. Cross multiply. How many of you have heard or used that term? What does it mean? Are you multiplying fractions? Are you to go from top to bottom or bottom to top? Which number should be the numerator which the denominator? Carnegie Mellon University research team led by Robert Siegler has identified a major source of the gap in student math achievement. “The research team found that fifth graders' understanding of fractions and division predicted high school students' knowledge of algebra and overall math achievement, even after statistically controlling for parents' education and income and for the children's own age, gender, I.Q., reading comprehension, working memory, and knowledge of whole number addition, subtraction and multiplication.”