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Four levels of listening

Introduction
Listening is one of the most important aspects — no, scratch that — the most important aspect of my work in the Maths Learning Centre.
It is not obvious to people starting out tutoring in the MLC that this should be the case. To a beginning tutor, it seems that it’s their job to explain things to […]

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Arbitrary mnemonics

A mnemonic is a mental trick to help you remember things. People use them all the time for all sorts of things, like the traditional colours of the rainbow (ROY G BIV), the order of the letters in the English alphabet (a song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), the order of operations […]

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Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel

One of my favourite puzzles is the Twelve Matchsticks puzzle. It goes like this:
Twelve matchsticks can be laid on the table to produce a variety of shapes. If the length of a matchstick is 1 unit, then the area of each shape can be found in square units. For example, these shapes have areas 6, […]

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Twitter and how not to treat my students

I have learned a lot from Twitter about how to treat my students, and most of it has been through being treated in ways I do not like. Recently I have been searching my own tweets to find things I’ve said before, and as I’ve dipped into old conversations, several unpleasant feelings have resurfaced when […]

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The curse of listening

I am often saying how important it is to listen to students, and that I am fascinated by student thoughts and feelings. When students say I am a good teacher my usual response is to say it’s because I have spent the last eleven years in a situation where I get to listen to lots […]

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Who is worthy to ask stupid and smart questions?

This post was going to be part of the Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavours, which you can see all the keynote speakers and presentations here: https://samjshah.com/mathematical-flavors-convention-center/. The prompt for all the blog posts that are part of this conference is this: “How does your class move the needle on what your kids think about the doing of math, or what counts as […]

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Ten years

On the 23rd of July 2008, I started my first day as coordinator of the Maths Learning Centre at the University of Adelaide. Today is the 23rd of July 2018 — the ten year anniversary of that first day. (Well, it was the 23rd of July when I started writing this post!)
So much has happened in […]

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Mr Johnson’s Rainbow

I love reading and writing, and the way that people use words to express ideas fascinates me. So it is no surprise that when I was in Year 12, I studied the highest level of English available. My English teacher was called Mr Johnson and I hated him. (It wasn’t really, Mr Johnson — I’ve […]

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Three hours in the MLC Drop-In Centre

Last week, I had one of those days in the MLC Drop-In Centre where I was hyper-aware of what I was doing as I was talking with students and by the end I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I had thought about. I decided that today I might attempt to process (or […]

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Book Reading: Making Number Talks Matter

Here is another post about a book I’ve read recently. This time, I’m writing about the book “Making Number Talks Matter” by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker.
In Cathy and Ruth’s words, number talks are “a brief daily practice where students mentally solve computation problems and talk about their strategies”. I had heard people talk about […]

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