Math for All Ages

“I hate math”

Could there be three words that are more abrasive to teachers?  Yet, you hear it all the time.  Much has been written about how students are doing with respect to standardized testing and that brings out all kinds of experts from every perspective.  They all have their own opinions and ideas about how to improve mathematics understanding.

It’s amazing that those of us who survived school when we did manage to also survive mathematics if it was taught so poorly by some of the opinions!  How can some people, me included, actually enjoy mathematics and a good puzzle?  There is all kinds of research available to support any position on the topic.   And yet, no definitive answer.

I’ve mentioned this before but a comment by a university professor has always struck home with me.  I’ve mentioned it before on this blog and I’ll do it again because it’s the essence of mathematics learning for me.

What do you do if you want to learn baseball?

Practice, Practice, Practice

What do you do if you want to learn basketball?

Practice, Practice, Practice

What do you do if you want to learn mathematics?

Do the odd numbered questions on page 47 of the textbook and then go outside and play baseball

Or some variation on it but you get the idea.

Once you start to learn and appreciate mathematics, you see it everywhere.  From patterns in nature to pencil calculations on a wooden deck to estimating when that amber light will turn red, it’s there if you care to look.  I fondly remember a CIESC meeting where each of the members received an RCA Small Wonder camera and they had a simple task. Go outside and take pictures of mathematics and bring it back to share.  We had a whale of a time.

So, if the answer is doing mathematics and practicing, how best to do it?

Fortunately, online, there are no shortages of resources.  One excellent one can be found at Topmarks.

The landing page makes it easy to navigate to all kinds of problems for practice.

You’ll find lots of ways to practice, learn, and discover.

Each activity is nicely coloured and presents the problem with a simple premise and then you’re off to do some solving.

One of the challenges that you might find when you look for resources online is that they may or may not work with the technology you have at hand.  The activities here are labeled as “tablet friendly” or needing “Flash” to run.  I know that many good intentions can be thwarted by incompatibility so hopefully this help find something appropriate.

Of course, since it’s based on the web, the activities can be recommended for home use as well.

It may not have all the answers but it does provide a suitable platform for “Practice, Practice, Practice”.

2 thoughts on “Math for All Ages”

1. Hi Doug,

I so agree so agree with you but want to add one thought. I really want to be better, volleyball player. I can practise and practise to my heart’s, content but if I do not have instruction with that practice I will not be better. I think we have to add in purposeful practice tempered with teaching.

I fear that when we say practise, practise, practise we will fall back to a blackline master by yourself.

Thanks again for the post.

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2. Good point. I had hoped that we’ve gone beyond blackline masters and put them in the past. I think it’s also important to note that some things electronic are just equivalents of the blackline master done on computer.

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