From the Mathematics Department

ANU Maths Day

Congratulations to our five, Year 12 double-major maths students who represented the school at the ANU Maths day on 28 May. Harry-Ryan Baker (Team Captain), Dominic Ferraris, Alyssa Humphrys, Daniel Butres and Harvey Brine braved a very cold and breezy ANU Sports Hall for the day to compete against the top maths students from schools across Canberra and some interstate schools. The team did very well and won some of the rounds during the day, however, the competition overall was very fierce. The day was still a huge success though with plenty of opportunity to network, catch up with some old friends, and work collaboratively on fun and challenging maths problems. Well done team – we are very proud of you!!

Year 7 and 8 Mathematics Enrichment Program

On Thursday 27 May the school launched a Mathematics enrichment program for 60 students in Years 7 and 8. The program involves the students completing either the Dirichlet (Year 7) or Euler (Year 8) enrichment modules developed by the Australian Maths Trust (AMT). Students need to work their way through a student handbook, which provides background information and practice questions, before attempting a series of problems aimed at encouraging mathematical thinking and problem-solving ability. The program will run until the end of August with results expected back in Term 4. Good luck to everyone participating.

Succeeding in Mathematics

Maths teachers often get asked by parents about the best way to help their child improve their learning of mathematics. Whilst investing money in a private tutor or purchasing one of the many software programs that are readily available on the internet may have some impact, the answer may in fact be much simpler than that: PRACTICE!

At school student are introduced to new concepts and techniques in almost every maths lesson. Even when students think that they fully understand what the teacher is presenting they do not really learn the skills until they’ve practiced them enough to build fluency. They then need to apply them to unfamiliar problems to gain a deeper understanding.

 

Practice makes perfect

When explaining this to students, I often use driving as an analogy. By the time students are old enough to start driving, they have sat in a car as a passenger for many hours. They usually understand the concept of driving, have watched many different people doing it and may in fact know all the road rules. This, however, does not mean that they themselves know how to drive. To do that they need to practice the individual skills associated with driving, such as parking, using indicators or changing lanes and then put them all together when driving on the road. These skills need to have been practiced many times before the learner driver can safely tackle unfamiliar conditions such as wet roads and heavy traffic and even more times before they are eligible to gain their provisional licenses. This is very similar to the learning of mathematics, where students need to practice skills to a level of fluency such that they can tackle the more challenging problems to gain a deeper understanding of concepts rather than process.

 

Tips for helping your child with learning maths
  1. Make sure they are completing all the work set by the teacher. The general rule is that any work not completed in class is to be completed at home (homework).
  2. If your child cannot complete a question, ask them to have a look at their class notes and textbook. The school has recently purchased the latest edition of all maths textbooks and these have many worked examples to help students complete work.
  3. Ask them to look online for help through websites such as Khan Academy. To access these they just need to Google the topic of interest followed by khan academy. For example ‘area of a circle khan academy’. For younger students the Eddie Woo video suite may be more appropriate. Again, just Google ‘area of a circle eddie woo’ to access these videos.
  4. If your child is still stuck, ask them to go to maths tutorials on Tuesdays and Thursdays at recess in D7 or on Monday afternoon from 3-4pm in the Resource Centre. These are drop-in sessions so students do no need to stay for the whole session. They can leave as soon as their questions are answered.
  5. Finally, feel free to contact the classroom teacher for advice specific to your child. Teacher contact details are available through the unit outlines.

Sketch of math class with working little people. Doodle cute miniature of teamwork and science symbols. Hand drawn cartoon vector illustration for school subject design.

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