Tagged: Study

News Article: A-level sciences ‘lacking maths’

There is a growing concern in the science community that there is an insufficient standard of maths being studied within science A-levels.

The ability to use maths within science is a critical skill for taking sciences through to university level.

See link to original article on the BBC News website here

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News Article : Numeracy linked to economic success

A recent study connects numeracy skills to economic success. This won’t surprise many people, but it is important to spread this message, if only to counter the “cool” vibe that sometimes exists around being weak at maths.

The Guardian

News Article: Two hours’ homework a night linked to better school results

A recent study links success at school with the amount of effort children put into homework, as well as how much they enjoy school.

This doesn’t surprise me. Sometimes I think there are unrealistic expectations of what a child can achieve solely in the classroom environment.  As adults, we know that (within reason) the more effort we put into something, the better we get at it – this is easy to see in sports such as football, when learning a musical instrument, or learning any new skill.

At school, students are learning several different subjects each day, and in each of these subjects, there is a significant amount of information being added onto what has been learned in previous weeks, months and years.

This much information is hard to digest, and it is too easy for understanding to fade before it has had a chance to really sink in.

Stepping away from the classroom environment and putting in some time each evening to have another look at what was learned at school gives each child another chance to absorb the new information.

Trying to apply the new knowledge through homework assignments is the best way to gain reassurance that there were no misunderstandings, or gaps in understanding, before attempting to build on it in the lessons that follow.

See the original article in The Guardian.  http://gu.com/p/36g7a

Tools: Casio FX-85GTPLUS

If your child is in secondary school, working towards a Maths GCSE’s (or A level) and does not have this calculator, then I strongly suggest you buy it.

Casio FX-GT83

Casio’s most popular GCSE Calculator

Yes, it is a £10 investment (cheaper if you shop around), but it is worth every penny.

I will attempt to list out some of the reasons why you should spend the money:

  • The maths teacher at school will be familiar with this calculator – or something very very similar. This means that every new maths topic taught in class will probably include instructions on how to do it using THIS calculator. If your child has a different calculator, they will be busy trying to interpret the teacher’s instructions and become unnecessarily flustered.
  • This calculator is easy to use for predictably right answers. I wish this wasn’t the case – I hate it when one product dominates the market – but there is a good reason why this calculator is the most popular. I have had three students turn up with different calculators in the past six months alone (I won’t mention the brands) and in every case, I have been able to demonstrate how the Casio calculator makes it easier to get the right answer, and to fix problems when they make a mistake.
  • Most school shops will sell this calculator – this means that you should be able to pick it up quite easily and for a reasonable price. It is also the most common GCSE Maths calculator that is available from local supermarkets, and stationery shops.
  • Technology matters – we are not in an era of slide rules. Our children are part of an ever-more technical world, and when they enter the working world, confidence with technological tools will be important. I do not subscribe to the notion that only Mental Maths is good – being good at using technology to solve problems is important – I personally feel that calculator skills are more important than being able to use a pair of compasses, or a protractor. It will certainly be more relevant long-term to the majority of students, than these engineering tools.

If your child spends his/her high school years learning maths with this calculator, then by the time they come to sit their exams, they will be able to maximise their performance, through confident knowledge of how to use the many features.

I have experienced countless “Wow!” moments, where a student cannot believe how much easier it is to do something on this calculator than they had previously thought. This contributes to confidence with maths, and improved performance in exams. Much as I am cynical of our national over-emphasis on exam performance, as parents and teachers, we are all striving to give our children the best future we can – and good exam results are part of that!

Website: Maths Net A Level

www.mathsnetalevel.com

PROs

  1. Great selection of A level questions
  2. Good categorisation by exam paper and topic
  3. Students can follow step by step solutions
  4. Students can try the same question several times, with different numbers, to consolidate understanding

CONs

  1. Sometimes the solutions are a bit contrived – automation means that either the question doesn’t quite make sense with the numbers used, or the solutions are not the most elegant
  2. The tool is only available if the student attends a school/college willing to pay the subscription fee
  3. There is no individual record of progress, or of questions answered correctly, for students to keep track of what they have or have not covered
  4. The website design is not easy on the eye – navigation is clunky and the student is often thrown back to the beginning, having to reselect exam paper, topic, category etc all over again.

Website: My Maths

My Maths

MyMaths is a great tool, both for teachers and students. Most parents will be familiar with the website because many children are assigned homework on it, regularly.

PROs

  1. A great way for children to learn topics they haven’t understood, in their own time.
  2. Easy to keep track of scores for each topic so that students can revisit topics that they have struggled with.
  3. Easy for parents to get an overview of what homeworks their children have done and to what standard.
  4. Immediate online marking means children do not have to wait for the teacher to tell them how well they did.
  5. Unlimited re-tries of a homework, with re-marking, means that children can be self-motivated to improve on their scores.

CONs

  1. Students need to remember their school login / password AND their own login / password.
  2. Homeworks can be awkward, particularly anything to do with measuring lengths, angles etc.
  3. Sometimes the methods used do not match up with the method taught at school
  4. It is not clear which topics are in scope for a particular Examination board, so students may lose confidence when they see topics that they cannot do, but are not relevant to them.