How kids with dyscalculia may struggle socially

Dyscalculia makes life difficult.  Having dyscalculia usually makes math class a humiliating experience, it also makes some common everyday skills difficult as well. Knowing left from right, reading a clock, using standard instruments of measurement such as a ruler or measuring cup, courting money and making change are a few examples.   But perhaps the most painful problem dyscalculia gives us is the social challenges it creates.   We can always find a way to avoid numbers, in fact we spend most of our time NOT working with numbers. Math class only lasts about an hour a day.  But we are always social. We can never avoid being social no…

Dyscalculia… why its important we learn more about it

Here’s a simple question for you to answer, which number is larger 55 or 23? The answer is of course 55, most of us can answer this question in less than 0.5 seconds.  But there are a few who will take as long as 3 seconds.  These people may have something called dyscalculia.  Dyscalculia (also known as number blindness) is a condition in which a person’s number sense is defective.  People diagnosed with dyscalculia usually have problems correlating they symbol for a number (for example 7) with the number of objects the symbol represents.  Counting is also difficult for them.  This of course…

Why estimating should be an important part of every math class

“How long does it take you to drive to work” is a very common question asked, have you ever noticed that the answers we get to this question is almost always a range and never a precise single number?  As in “About 15 – 20 minutes” as opposed to “18 minutes”. When it comes to answering questions dealing with quantity (like how long it takes to drive to work) we seem to be incapable of giving a precise single number as answer.  When asked how “How many people showed up to the Christmas party?” we answer “about 100, 150”.  When…

Why the Metric system is not always superior to the Imperial system

As a Canadian I love to joke about how much more sense our measurement system (the metric system) is than the American system (the imperial system).  Its always nice to get a few jabs in on our neighbors to the south.   Helps me feel better about my country when I can put another country down just a little bit. The basis for believing that the metric system is superior to the imperial system is that is less confusing than the imperial system.  The metric system measures things using units such as meters (for length) or grams (for weight) and adds prefixes such as kilo,…

The Man Who Hated Math

Former British Prime Minister Willian Gladstone hated math.  He hated math so much that when he was in university he wrote a letter to his father asking to be transferred to a University that did not offer any classes in math.  As a member of Parliament Gladstone’s father could have easily arranged for a transfer to a “no math” university for his son, but instead he replied “You say that you dislike math, but there is a supreme pleasure to be found in putting all your efforts into a subject that you dislike.  You may be faced with a time…

Subway Map that makes Studying for Advanced Functions Easier!

Studying for an exam in mathematics is not fun for many students.  The biggest complaint I get about studying for a math exam is the amount of concepts that have to be reviewed in order to prepare. I always feel disappointed when I hear students tell me how much anxiety preparing for a math exam is causing them.  As a mathematics teacher I always hope students can see how the concepts we work on over the semester connect with each other (wishful thinking on my part I know!) .  Ideally by the time exams come around they understand the concepts so well (because they see the connection between…

Secrets Behind Math Magic Trick Unveiled !

Here is a neat math trick I learned from Alex Bellos’ book “Here’s looking at Euclid”. The Trick Start by picking any three digit number where the first and last digits differ by at least two.  For example 421. The revers it’s digits … 124 Subtract the smaller number from the bigger number 421 – 124 = 297 Reverse this result and add the two numbers … 297 + 792 = 1089 Now try this with any other three digit number whose first and last digits differ by at least two … say 519 reverse of 519 is 915 difference…

The Man Who Knew Infinity

There are not many movies about mathematics or mathematicians and there are even less popular movies about the subject (Good Will Hunting,  A Beautiful Mind  are a couple of examples).  So when I saw the movie “The Man Who Knew Infinity” on Netflix I eagerly watched it.  I remember seeing a picture of Srinivasa Ramanujan in my math text book when I was a high school student and reading a small caption about him telling me that he was a brilliant mathematician who developed theorems despite having grown up in poverty without formal education.  I wanted to watch the movie because I wanted to know…

Unnecessary division limiting progress in mathematical education

When I was in school, mathematics was the king of the education world.  Few questioned its importance. Students who excelled at the subject were perceived to be “smart”, and were often praised for their work ethic as they practiced math problems from a textbook or worksheet on a daily basis . Even if many students did not fully understand why it was so highly regarded ,  they accepted the fact that math was THE academic subject. Fast forward to 2016, math is now struggling to hang on to its identity of being one of the most important subjects we learn in school. These days many students seem to ask why…