The difficulties with engaging children in math learning grows each year. I have several articles coming up next week that discuss that issue (links won’t work until publication date):
What is ‘Technical Math’–December 10, 2021 (this article)
Returning to Rigorous Mathematics–December 16, 2021
Math Scores Drop Again–December 17, 2021
An excellent solution is to change the focus, teach kids what will be required. One of our Ask a Tech Teacher partners has a good article on that topic:
What Is Technical Math?
There’s an old joke about how kids are forced to learn algebra and trigonometry in school, but have no use for those subjects in real life. But in reality, that depends heavily on what kind of profession you choose to go into. A lot of professions you might think wouldn’t call for much math actually require it as a core skill set for certain trades, including plumbers, electricians, welders, and construction workers.
Why do trades like this require so much mathematics? These are supposed to be the jobs you don’t need extensive education for, right? Well, as it turns out, they’re not.
In fact, many technical trades require more math than some white-collar professions. Let’s look at welding, for example. To excel in their profession, a welder needs to understand and calculate concepts like material usage, which requires using fractions and sometimes algebra. They’ll also need to know how to use charts and graphs for some processes.
The same is true of construction workers, who must deal with equations, conversion of quantities, and taking measurements. In a typical workday, a construction worker may have to use equations to convert between units of measure, or use ratios to figure out the proportion of a roof’s length to its height. Getting some calculations wrong in construction work can have dangerous, if not deadly, consequences. In more advanced construction work (i.e. the jobs that pay well), they’ll even have to know some geometry.
The skills required for these sorts of jobs comes from a particular field, called “trade math” or “technical math.”
Struggling with helping students learn math when you can’t be at their side? Try these videos (check here for updates to links):
- Bright Storm math videos
- Khan Academy–online progressive math program; free
- Math Class with Terry V
- Math DrBob
- Math Videos
- Math videos–clean, nice
- MathTV–videos; create playlists of topics; Spanish option
- Origo One — one-minute math videos
- Patrick JMT–math videos for lots of grade levels
- YayMath — videos on math
Financial Literacy Month is recognized annually in Canada in November, and National Financial Literacy Month was recognized in the United States in April 2004, in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach citizens how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.
When kids read that America’s $28 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.
If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are fifteen I like. See if one suits you (check here for updates on links):
- Banzai–financial literacy (free) online program
- Bartleby Economics Q&A
- BizKids–games to teach business and finance
- Budget Challenge–for HS and college
- Cash Crunch–games for youngers and olders (HS and college)
- Financial Football–as fun as it sounds
- Financial Literacy Quizzes–in a variety of financial topics for high schoolers
- Gen I Revolution
- H&R Block Budget Challenge game
- Life on Minimum Wage (a game–through TpT but free)
- Living Wage–what’s it cost to survive–by state, cities, counties
- Own vs Rent Calculator–plug in the numbers; see the results
- Personal Finance for MS
- Personal Finance Lab–stock market game
- Practical Money Skills
Two math celebrations are coming up this month:
World Maths Day
Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form.
Daniel Tammet, a high-functioning autistic savant, holds the European record for reciting pi from memory to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes.
- Expii Solve–math word problems and puzzles, lots of them
- IXL Word Problems–by grade
- Math and Logic Problems
- Math Pickle–puzzles, games, and mini competitions
- Prodigy Math Word Problems–about 120
- Thinking Blocks–free (app)
- Word problems–type them in, Wolfram/Alpha provides the answer and the how-to. Amazing.
- Word Problems from Math Playground
- Would You Rather–more like a justification for decisions using math
Click for more online math resources.
Here are some great ideas for celebrating:
National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States. The day focuses on helping students advance in STEM fields, a priority of NASA as we continue to push the boundaries of exploration and soar into the future. In celebration of National STEM Day, we challenge you to engage and inspire the Artemis generation as we go forward to the Moon by 2024 and continue to innovate in the areas of Earth science and aeronautics. To help you join in on the festivities, here are 10 ways you can celebrate National STEM Day with us.
On November 8th 2019, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.
While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. You might be asking, what will a four or five-year-old student be able to understand about these subjects?
I don’t know many kids who aren’t excited to play games. Savvy educators have built lesson plans based on this interest for years. Today, because of the changes in education, the use of games to reinforce learning, to teach, and to engage students in their own education has become one of the most effective tools to bridge the gap between school-based and remote learning. Here’s what a joint study from Legends of Learning and Vanderbilt University found:
“…students who played the games outperformed their peers on standardized tests. Additionally, teachers saw dramatic increases in engagement and performance. “
In fact, 92% of teachers indicated they would like to use curriculum-based games in the future.
What is GBL
What is this magic wand? It’s called Game Based Learning (GBL). It simply means teachers include games in their lesson plans to teach curricular concepts. By using the games kids already love–want to play–GBL has an opportunity to turn students into lifelong learners who enjoy learning.
Good example of GBL: SplashLearn
A good example of game based learning is the free-to-teachers program called SplashLearn. SplashLearn is an easy-to-use COPA-compliant, Common Core-aligned math curriculum for grades Kindergarten-5th that uses game-based learning to teach mathematical concepts. Students learn specific skills assigned by the teacher (to a group or individual) by playing age-appropriate, intuitive games based on appealing characters and fun interactions. These are welcome alternatives to the rote drill that many of us grew up on.
A growing focus of schools is STEM. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Brianna, has some general observations about STEM education in 2020:
Stem Education in 2020
About two decades ago, the sciences were not so popular among younger generations. People keen on mathematics, physics, or IT were awe-inspiring and seemed to have supernatural abilities. But, the importance of sciences and technologies has grown; that’s why professionals in certain fields have become headhunters’ “targets.” The world’s workforce lacked a lot of science specialists, that is why STEM education became more popular.
So, what is STEM education? STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These subjects are being taught cross-disciplinary and in a complex which refers to real situations. This approach fosters the motivation of students which tend to make use of essay help service and tutors to have work done. You might think that there can be nothing new about STEM education in K-12 and higher education. Still, there are several facts you may want to know about.
The Role of Technology
The essential component in 2020 is a T-part of STEM – Technology. It is not only an object of education but a necessary and irreplaceable means of teaching STEM as well. For several years now, we observe a rapid growth of online and remote teaching, learning, and even practicing. Education in various disciplines has undergone significant change with the introduction of VR and AR into the classrooms. Now it is possible to create virtual reality and virtual laboratories for students to practice in. And this is only a small part of the technologies’ influence on modern life and education.
Grants and New Opportunities
Currently, numerous STEM courses and grants are launching in many universities and organizations. Moreover, famous corporations and brands are funding them, making it possible for students with limited financial possibilities to get quality education free of charge. Such examples are Ford Motor, Toyota Foundation, and Toshiba. They offer grants not only to students of higher education institutions but at a school level too. The NEA Foundation also promotes grants and projects to underserved communities that do not have access to a quality education process and resources.
When kids read that America’s $23 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.
If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are fifteen I like. See if one suits you:
Age group: Middle school
Through this interactive video game, students learn to identify advertising and understand its messages with the goal of becoming informed, discerning consumers. To win the game, they will have to answer questions like, “Who is responsible for the ad?”, “What is the ad actually saying?”, and “What does the ad want me to do?” For educators and parents, Admongo includes tools like videos, lesson plans, printed materials, downloads, and alignment with state standards.
Admongo is put out by the Federal Trade Commission who also offers another well-received game, “Spam Scam Slam” about spam.
Age group: middle and high school
Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-
your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they pretend that they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their limited income and then must face the consequences of those actions, basing decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students juggle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. At the end, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.
The program is free, takes about eight hours (depending upon the student), and can include printed materials as well as digital.
The first World Maths Day was held on March 14, 2007 (also Pi Day), and has ever since been held occasionally on the 1st Wednesday in March. March 2020 World Maths Day is one of the world’s largest global educational events aimed at lifting numeracy standards in a fun and meaningful way. Why not celebrate with your own fun maths teaching – take a look at our lovely supporting resources! Find out more at the World Maths Day Website
World Maths Day is a free, fun, online competition with up to 4 million students world-wide participating. The competition measures speed in arithmetic and numeracy skills on the Live Mathletics platform and runs for 48 hours and is open to all schools around the world. Students compete online with other students and top scores are displayed on a live ‘Hall of Fame’.