L.A. Times Festival of Books – Booth 627 – Stop by Tomorrow

April 11th, 2014

Hi everyone,

Stop by tomorrow at Booth 627. I’ll be selling the second edition of my workbook as well as the Teacher’s edition and my two Learning Aids. I’ll have a few copies of our the new French edition. The book appeared tonight on Amazon!

I look forward to seeing you. The temperature will be in the 60’s — a nice change from the 80’s of this week. It’s always fun to meet parents and children. Every year, some child sees the huge poster of the cover in our booth and exclaims, “Mom, look! There’s my math book.”

Can you imagine how gratifying it is to meet a child who learned his tables with my method? Extremely, gratifying!

French edition is “born” today on Amazon!

January 21st, 2014

Born: April 11, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.

Bonjour tour le monde!

I am thrilled to report that the French edition of my workbook appeared today on Amazon! Heidi Fournier, a math and science teacher in Switzerland, is the translator. Michael Likens of www.gopixel.com is the graphic artist. Together, the three of us produced the workbook.

A workbok like mine has sooooo many details that translating and producing a new edition is a labor of love. “Enseignez a Votre Enfant les Tables de Multiplication, Methode Facile, Rapide et Divertissante!” is now available on Amazon in the US, the UK and Europe.

Tips for teaching your child ADDITION

June 25th, 2013

Yesterday I received an email from a mom asking for tips on teaching her son addition.

My reply:

For addition and subtraction, I recommend Cuisenaire Rods by Learning Resources. I found these on Amazon. These connecting rods in different colors come in sizes from 1 to 10 cells. Your son will see that to make a rod as long as the ten, he can use two 5s or a 5, a 3 and a 2. Manipulatives make math real.

It’s important to teach children early on the concept of ODD and EVEN numbers. I recommend using M&Ms, Cheerios or pennies to teach this. All EVEN numbers can be grouped in 2s but with an ODD number, one is always left over. You might take an egg carton and have your son distribute 15 M&Ms (two by two) in the carton. One will be left over. Now compare with 16. He will learn that all even numbers end with 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0.

Let your son see the pattern of EVEN numbers. These can be grouped in 2s. When you add two even numbers, you are keeping an EVEN pattern. When you add two ODD numbers, the extra one combines with the extra one of the other number and makes a pair. Do this with pennies. The only time you get an ODD total is when you add an EVEN and an ODD number.

For my son, I would take addition flash cards and go through these. I would not ask for the total but whether the total would be ODD or EVEN: 9 + 6 versus 9 + 5.

Also fun is to open an M&M bag (small) and count the M&Ms — first the grand total. Now count how many reds, blues, etc. Which colors are odd numbers? Which are even? If you have a bag and are counting yours at the same time, it makes this more interesting as the bags will vary in number of reds etc. and one bag may have that extra M&M. Make a bar graph of the different colors. This will immediately show your child how many more yellows that red. If you do this on graph paper, the graph will end up looking like the Cuisenaire rods. Then for the ODD M&Ms give your child an extra one of yours.

Again, real objects that a child manipulates make math real. It’s also good to use coins as children are always interested in money. A dime is EVEN but what about a quarter? How many different ways can your son combine coins to equal a quarter? For a quarter, he will have a minimum of 3 coins. There are no 2 coins that will equal a quarter. If you tell your son he can keep the coins after the math lesson, he will be exra motivated to do this lesson.

FRENCH edition in the works!

June 22nd, 2012

I’ve been busy, busy reviewing the French translation of my worbook.  Heidi Fournier from French-speaking Switzerland has been in Irvine a few months. Heidi has a Master’s in science and math.  On her return to Switzerland, she will pursue a teaching certificate and become a middle school teacher.  Perhaps she will have the opportunity of testing the efficacy of my method in the classroom.  I’m delighted to have met her and embarked on this project!

A GREAT DVD — The Story of One

March 3rd, 2012

The Story of ONE is a fascinating exploration of how civilizations figured out how to represent quantities with symbols. With entertaining dramatizations and wry insights, Terry Jones explains how our present numerical system evolved.

How did the Egyptians build their pyramids? They came up with their own measuring stick and issued one to each laborer. Did the “ruler” come from the ruler? Why is it “Arabic” numbers (that actuallycame from India) replaced Roman numerals? Why was there resistance to these Arabic numbers that were clearly superior? Terry Jones delves into history and makes math come ALIVE.

Highly recommended to students from 3rd grade through high school!

History of Mathematics on You Tube

June 17th, 2011

How did ancient cultures develop number systems to make sense of their world?  How did men and women in Paleolithic times the mark the passing of time and change of seasons?  What number symbols did the Babylonians, Egyptians and Romans invent to conduct commerce?   To find these answers, view: 

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy-8lPVKLIo

This cute animated video also includes a history of the development of fractions which were necessary to divide land or share harvests.  You’ll see how development of mathematics not only made sense of the world but helped ensure our survival.

College students do not know . . . fractions?

May 22nd, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                     So I was shocked to hear from a friend that college students in the math class her son teaches at the University of Washington do not know  . . .   fractions

Without these how could a student score high enough on the SAT math exam to get into the university?  How could an eighteen or nineteen year old not know how to convert 2/3 to a decimal?   How could these kids who probably had some part-time job be so innumerate?  Would parents not be aware and sit their teen-ager down and teach him or her basic  math skills necessary for survival? 

Parents see the C’s, D’s and F’s in math on elementary, middle and high school report cards.  Your child is failing math?  It is your responsibility is to sit down and teach your son or daughter basic math skills.  Without these, your child is doomed to struggle in school.

You can’t be a responsible, functioning adult without basic math skills. Math skills are a requisite for any number of rewarding careers.  You can’t be an architect, engineer or a financial whiz without knowing how to compute fractions, decimals and percentages.  You can’t manage a household budget or do smart comparision shopping without basic math skills.  You can’t be a good parent without these.

Parents,  invest in your child’s early years.  A third grader who knows his/her times tables and knows how to read (and hopefully enjoys reading because YOU love to read) will most likely graduate from high school.  Competent third graders become competent high school students.   Parents, it is up to you to instill a love of learning and ensure your child’s success in school.  A parent is a child’s first and primary teacher.

Image borrowed from questgarden.com.

Tsunami

March 16th, 2011

Triggered by a massive earthquake, a tsunami unleashes its fury on Japan.  All of us saw the images on tv hardly believing a wall of water could be so powerful that it would crash through coastal cities upending homes, destroying buildings and churning down streets sweeping away everything in its path.  Minivans bobbed about in the detritus like corks. 

Friday afternoon, people would have been in their homes, offices or running a quick errand in cars as the earthquake struck. Children would be at school.  A thirty-second warning sounds that an earthquake is imminent.  People brace for the worst as the quake strikes with seismic force.  Some are buried in the rubble. 

But the earthquake wasn’t the worst of it.  Nature had a double punch. The energy of the buckling of the seismic plates on the ocean floor was displaced to the water, which came rushing to shore with all the wrath and fury of a monstrous wave depicted in Japanese woodcuts. The wave hit Sendai thirty minutes after the quake.  No doubt, the citizens were still in shock from the quake, perhaps searching for loved ones or salvaging photos and prized possessions.  How many had the presence to flee? 

Unlike the coast of California, the northeastern coast of Japan is flat.   There is no higher ground to escape to.  The only alternative to flee as far away as one can inland.  You can survive an earthquake if there are pockets of air in the building but what pockets of air remain after a wall of water rushes through?  Now, of course, there is the terrible threat of nuclear contamination since the reactors have been damaged.  A triple punch to Japan.

The tsunami . . .  how strong that imagery of total destruction wreaked by nature.  I’m also thinking of a tsunami in metaphorical terms:  the tsunami of our economy with citizens unable to find work, the tsunami of the unrest in the Middle East as rebels calling for reform are violently repressed by a despotic ruler and the tsunami facing our educational system where the establishment seems to care more for its own wellbeing than that of the children they are entrusted with.

Six Million Paper Clips

March 5th, 2011

Have you come across an award-winning documentary, Paper Clips, which documents the Paper Clips Project begun by an eighth grade class studying the Holocaust in rural Tennessee?  To better understand the magnitude of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, the students decided to collect paper clips after discovering that Norwegians wore a paper clip on their lapels in silent protest to the Nazi occupation of their country.

Begun in 1998, the Paper Clip Project gained traction when German journalists covering the White House began to write about it in German newspapers.  I remember seeing mention of this project on the nightly news.  The earnestness of the students and the poignancy of a single, mundane paper clip representing one life lost brought tears to my eyes.  Jews from all over the world began to send letters with photos of family members lost in the Holocaust.  Enclosed were one or more paper clips.  One person in Germany sent a 40’s era leather suitcase with mementoes of lives lost.  Soon millions of paper clips arrived at the school. 

As the Project grew, the German journalists felt that it would be fitting to find a boxcar in Germany, one of the actual boxcars that transported Jews to the camps.  This boxcar would be a museum housing the paper clips, letters and photographs sent by millions round the world.  At the inauguration of the museum, Holocaust survivors came to the ceremony.  As you watch the film, be warned that you will cry when the survivors speak of their heartfelt gratitude to the students.

Paper Clips is a beautiful, moving, poignant documentary.  Six million is too large for our minds to grasp. When represented by millions of ordinary paper clips, we comprehend the enormity of this number.  If you have children in middle school or high school, be sure to have them see this film.

Does Tiger Mothering Work on Boys?

February 9th, 2011

Last weekend, I was speaking with two male electrical engineers from Korea, who had read with interest the WSJ’s article on Amy Chua.  “No way, would this Tiger Mother approach work on boys,” was their view, noting that Amy Chua has two daughters.

This got me thinking.  Girls tend to be more compliant than boys.  They’re able to sit still longer without fidgeting whether long hours at school or at the piano.  In fact, our school model seems designed for obeisant girls.  So why is it moms are better able to impose their will on daughters?  Is there something in the dynamic of mother and daughter that allows or even encourages this?

Are dads less likely to intervene or oppose this strict tiger mothering because after all moms know better with daughters?  Would they be less tolerant of tiger mothering of their sons and thus more likely to speak up against mom’s harsh parenting?  Are moms more tolerant and less strict with their sons?  Would they/could they impose their iron will with them?

The Asian violin and piano prodigies in Orange County are by and large young women.   Should we then conclude that Tiger Mothering might be gender selective, best reserved for daughters?

Was your mom far stricter with you than with your brother?  As a mom, do you take a less strict approach to parenting with your son, allowing him leeway that you would not allow your daughter?