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Category: How people learn (or don’t)

Anything about how people learn — mostly how they learn maths — or how they get blocked from learning

An opening gambit for the Numbers game

It was O’Week a couple of weeks ago, when new students arrive on campus to find out how uni works and the services they have access to. Our tradition for the last several years is to play Numbers and Letters on a big whiteboard out in public as a way to engage with students.
In case […]

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Finding an inverse function

There is a procedure that people use and teach students to use for finding the inverse of a function. It goes like this (this image comes from page 10 of this document from Edexcel, but this pic is from Jo Morgan’s blog where I first saw it):

My problem with this is that it doesn’t make […]

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The Zumbo (hypothesis) Test

Here in Australia, we are at the tail end of a reality cooking competition called “Zumbo’s Just Desserts“. In the show, a group of hopefuls compete in challenges where they produce desserts, hosted by patissier Adriano Zumbo. There are two types of challenges. In the “Sweet Sensations” challenge, they have to create a dessert from […]

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Problem strings and using the chain rule with functions defined as integrals

In Maths 1A here at the University of Adelaide, they learn the following theorem (this is taken from the lecture notes written by the School of Maths here):

It says that, given a function of x defined as the integral of an original function from a constant to x, when you differentiate it you get the […]

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Quadrilateral family tree

I have always loved the naming of quadrilaterals, right from when I first heard about it in high school. I’m not entirely sure why, but some of it has to do with the nested nature of the definitions – I like that a square is a kind of rectangle and a rectangle is a kind […]

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One reason I’ll still use pi

Every so often, someone brings up the thing with tau (τ) versus pi (π) as the fundamental circle constant. In general I find the discussion wearisome because it usually focuses on telling people they are stupid or wrong for choosing to use one constant or the other. There are more productive uses of your time, […]

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Brackets

I had a meeting with an international student in the MLC on Friday who has having a whole lot of language issues in her maths class.
She was from the USA.
Yes, the USA. Her problem wasn’t the everyday English; it was with the different terminologies for mathematical things here compared to her experience where she comes […]

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A Day of Maths 3: Zero Zeros

This is the third in a series about a Day of Maths I did in my daughter’s Year 7 classroom. I started back with The Best! Day! Ever! and then talked about Quarter the Cross. This post is about a puzzle I gave to students to fill in some time while their classmates finished off […]

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A Day of Maths 2: Quarter the Cross

This is the second in a series of posts about the Maths Day I did in my daughter’s Year 7 classroom. Last time, I talked about the awesomeness of the day as a whole. For the next few posts, I’ll talk about the actual activities we did.
After the general intro into me and what I […]

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A Day of Maths 1: Best! Day! Ever!

Last Monday, I was invited into my daughter’s Year 7 classroom to do a full day of maths with the students. It was the Best Day Ever.  I had so much fun giving the students things to think about, and watching and helping the students think and talk about them.
The teacher, Anne, was an absolute […]

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