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TAG: problem-solving

Really working together

Yesterday, I had one of those experiences in the MLC that makes me love my job.
The Maths 1B students were working on a linear algebra proof today, and as I came up to one of the tables, Fred (name changed) was explaining the beginning of his proof to the rest of the table. When I […]

Posted in How people learn (or don't), Other MLC stuff | Tagged , |

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A story instead of stars and bars

In a recent post (Counting the Story), I talked about how if you look closely at most solutions of combinatorics problems, you’ll see that they actually count the story of constructing the object rather than the object itself.
One exception to this is a problem like this:
“The balloon man has a huge collection of balloons in […]

Posted in Isn't maths cool?, Thoughts about maths thinking | Tagged , |

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Inspiration, not instructions

We have a big problem-solving poster on the MLC wall that gives students advice for solving problems. One of those pieces of advice is that to decide what to do for your current problem, you could look at other problems for inspiration. Yesterday I saw the dangerous results of what happens if you look at […]

Posted in Being a good teacher, How people learn (or don't), Thoughts about maths thinking | Tagged , |

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There is no such thing as “just a quick question”

We often get students in the MLC saying that they have “just a quick question”: “Finally you’re up to me – it seems like a long time to wait when it’s just a quick question…”; “I know it’s 4:05 and the Centre closed five minutes ago, but it’s just a quick question…”; “I’m sorry to […]

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Assignments don’t teach people

It is a well-known truth that assessment drives learning. Students will often not learn a particular topic or concept unless it is assessed by an assignment or exam. Fair enough — often students are not choosing to do a particular course for the sheer love of it, are they?
However, many lecturers take this truth just […]

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You will never see this problem again

“Now you understand that you’ll never see this problem again, don’t you?” I said, after a particularly productive problem-solving session at the MLC whiteboard with a group of students.
And then the world ended.
At least, I would have gotten the same reaction from the students if it had. They were all staring at me with wild […]

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Does it matter that roosters don’t lay eggs?

There is a particularly annoying puzzle that goes something like this:
“A rooster sits on the apex of a barn roof. The roof pitches at an angle of 43 degrees above the horizontal and is made of wood painted red. On the northern side of the roof, there is a large tree which casts a shadow […]

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Books in the 22nd Century

I’ve just read a book called “Written for Children” by John Rowe Townsend. It was published in 1974 and gives the history of writing for children (in English) up to that time. It was very interesting reading. What I’d like to comment on here is the final chapter, where the author talks about the future […]

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