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Black Hole Date Night for Han and Leia

Han and Leia on a Date at the Black Hole

Because sometimes when you’re just hanging out with your 6th grader, the conversation drifts, and before you know it you’re talking scientific notation, gravitational mass, black holes and where Han and Leia might get to on an interesting date night… And yes, it’s so much fun to be Geek Dad.

Questions About Common Core

Common Core Logo Question

The adoption of Common Core standards across schools is a topic that has a lot of people jumping to one side of the fence or another. It’s difficult to find a balanced view of this controversial topic, but this recent article from LifeHacker hit both sides of the debate and is definitely worth a read if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about…

The Parent’s Guide to Common Core

The math component of Common Core has drawn more perhaps more criticism than others, and Marina Ratner in the Wall Street Journal definitely wasn’t shy about pointing out some of the larger concerns…

Making Math Education Even Worse

Dad’s perspective? There’s definite value in assessing how well individual schools are doing with their math curriculum, and standardized testing is probably the most effective way to make these comparisons. And a renewed focus on true problem solving (not just the mechanics of symbol manipulation) is a positive step in teaching math concepts. But will Common Core be the final word on this? Probably not.

The larger problem in my mind remains one of inspiration, not creating the one sanctified list of what to teach and how (of which there’s certainly no single “correct” way), or even assessment (which is necessary, but will always imperfect, no matter how many tax dollars we throw at it). Rather, if we approached math the way that we did many other topics, like art, music or literature, where there was a a great story or beauty to be unfolded, I suspect much of the gap in STEM competency that everybody worries about would melt away. This inspiration is only going to come at the hands of talented teachers and engaged parents, like Seven Strogatz…

Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It

What are your thoughts? Has your school fully embraced Common Core math and how is that working out for your kids?

Help! I’m Being Sucked into a Negative Black Hole… Throw Me a Number Line!

I suppose as a kid, it’s tough to focus on learning something new when your dad tells you that the entire universe might be erased by a minus sign.

We’d pretty much exhausted the positive integer subtraction worksheets, but had a high-motivation goal on the table involving another iPod download here, so something had to fill the gap in the space-time continuum… I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to toss out one of the introductory subtraction pages on negative numbers because I had the time to introduce the concept and work through a few examples.

Unfortunately, as far as my young charge was concerned, negative numbers might as well have come from Mars. Or worse. Much, much worse.

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Rocket Math Strategies

Rocket Math Rocket

Many grade schools now using various types of timed tests for basic arithmetic. This web site was originally created to provide practice worksheets for a time testing program used at a local school district. If your child’s school is using a similar program, these worksheets will provide several variations on the single practice sheet that typically comes home for each lesson.

The Rocket Math programs are typically divided into multiple levels usually identified by letter, where each level introduces a small number of basic facts. The problems on each level are built on the The tests are usually given daily, with each test lasting one minute. Practice on the problems is pretty critical to success, especially if your child isn’t one that works well under the pressure of the clock.

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Raising the Bar: How Parents Can Fix Education

Dan Akst penned an inspired article for last Friday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know that we’re ready to give up Hannah Montana and Guitar Hero just yet, but the advice here resonated strongly. Straight to the point…

More than budgets or bureaucrats, more than textbooks or teachers, parents are the reason that kids perform as they do in school.

That’s not to take anything away from the support our teachers and schools are providing, and our teachers here are the first ones to raise the same flags Mr. Akst is waving. Nay-sayers not withstanding, this article hits the nail on the head. There’s only so much a teacher in a classroom with 20 kids can get accomplished, and these days a one-on-one homework hour with your child is more than just an opportunity… It’s a necessity.

Math Worksheets