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,…

Prime Number athletes… Mike Palmateer # 29

Like everybody else who grew up in Toronto in the 80’s and 90’s  I loved watching the Leafs, sure they were horrible for most of the 80’s and only got better in the early 90’s.  But they were our team for better or worse. I remember looking forward to “Hockey Night in Canada” every Saturday night to watch my Leafs.  I always had hope they would win, but more often than not, they lost. It did not matter how bad they were I could cheer for no other team. My first favorite Toronto Maple Leafs was a diminutive acrobatic goaltender named Mike Palmateer who wore…

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…