Posts Tagged ‘Eugenia Francis’

How an email to The Wall Street Journal led to a Profile Article

Monday, December 19th, 2016

For years I’ve been an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal informs and entertains me. I especially look forward to the weekend edition, filled with fascinating articles.

One Saturday morning, I was reading Encore profiles, profiles of people who in retirement have done something interesting–something entirely different from their previous career. I sent off an email to the editor, telling him of my unlikely path from UCI English instructor to children’s math book writer. I mentioned how my father had been an entrepreneur, building two companies, and the lessons learned from him. I’d seen firsthand the risks and the rewards. To my astonishment, I received a response from the editor stating: “One of our reporters will be contacting you.” For a minute I stared at my computer screen in total disbelief!

Within a few weeks, one of their journalists interviewed me and asked me about my background, my math workbook and my company, TeaCHildMath. The morning of publication, I was up at 4:00 in my California home. Within three hours, PayPal orders poured in from East Coast to the West Coast. It was like seeing the map of the USA light up before my eyes. Hundreds of orders poured in!

Never would I have imagined the WSJ writing a profile article on me and my second-career story. How did it happen? I took the time time to write an email. Ten minutes paid enormous dividends. My father would’ve been so proud.

Benefits of the “Bilingual Brain” in Math

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Raised in Mexico City, the daughter of American parents, I grew up bilingual. Speaking another language has certainly proven to be an asset and no doubt influenced my decision to major in Comparative Literature. In my pre-university life, I excelled in math. I’ve often wondered if my bilingualism gave me an advantage in math?

A few years ago, I read a study conducted in Quebec in which children from French-speaking homes went to schools whose curriculum was taught in English and English-speaking students who went to French schools. Both groups did well in their acquired second language, but what surprised researchers was that these bilingual students did better in math than their monolingual counterparts at these schools.

The researchers concluded that bilingual students had developed strong analytical skills that facilitated understanding math concepts and solving complex word problems. The ability to think in two languages promoted higher levels of abstract thought, a crucial cognitive skill that benefits students in mathematics.

So beyond the apparent socio-cultural and economic benefits of speaking a second language, let’s not overlook the enhanced cognitive skills acquired in learning a second language.

Times Tables, the Key to Your Child’s Success? The benefit of a press release in launching your book

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Often moms who have written a children’s book as me how I launched mine. Of great help was the press release below, published in 2016. This press release appeared on numerous websites and was published in five languages! It also was published in Education Matters, a journal for educators. Can you imagine what a full page ad in that magazine would have cost me?

Times Tables, the Key to Your Child’s Success?
 
Irvine, CA- When did you lose interest in math?  Never had any?  Maybe, but Eugenia Francis knows exactly when it started to happen to her son.  The moment?  The dread rite of passage all children face:  the multiplication tables.
 
As her son struggled with endless drills, Francis realized there had to be a better way.  Why not learn the tables in context of one another and emphasize the commutative property (i.e. 4 x 6 is the same as 6 x 4) of the multiplication tables?  Francis drew a grid for tables 1-10 and discovered patterns for her son to decode.  The mysteries of the times tables unfolded as a daily exploration of “magic” never discussed in his third-grade class.  Their fridge eventually was papered with patterns that made the times tables intriguing. “Patterns made my son smile,” Francis says. “He could see the structure and knew he got it right.”
 
Ever the creative educator, Francis taught college English. “Patterns whether in literature or math,” she says, “reveal the underlying structure.  There is an inherent simplicity in them, an inherent beauty.  Math should engage your child’s imagination.”
 
At the kitchen table, Francis applied her skills to math.  Why not learn the tables in order of difficulty?  Tables 2, 4, 6 and 8 are easy to learn as they end in some combination of 2-4-6-8-0.  Tables for odd numbers also have distinct patterns.  Why not a more creative approach?  Thus was born Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables, Fun, Fast and Easy with Dazzling Patterns, Grids and Tricks! (available on Amazon and www.TeaCHildMath.com ) and mom the entrepreneur. 
 
Patterns appeal to children. Learning to recognize patterns teaches analytical skills. A review in California Homeschool News stated:  “My daughter thinks it’s is lots of fun.  She’s already had quite a few ‘ah-ha moments as she recognizes and predicts the various patterns.”  Patterns enhance recall.  “Children with ADHD, dyslexia and autism do well with my method,” Francis says.
 
Parents and teachers must ensure children learn the multiplication tables. “Without them a child is doomed,” Francis states.  A child who has not mastered the times tables has difficulty succeeding in mathematics beyond the third grade. 
 
A recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times noted that failure to pass Algebra I was the “single biggest obstacle to high school graduation” and that failure to master the multiplication tables was one of the main reasons.  A survey of California Algebra I teachers report that 30% of their students do not know the multiplication tables.  It is hardly surprising then that fifteen-year olds in the U.S. rank near the bottom of industrialized nations in math skills. 
 
“We have one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world,” Bill Gates stated.  “If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their zip code, their skin color or their parents’ income.  That is offensive to our values.”
 
Teachers must innovate and bring the magic of math into the classroom.  Parents must do their part.  “Parents have a huge influence over a third or fourth grader,” Francis states.  “By high school it may be too late.  Why not take the opportunity that teaching the multiplication tables provides to give your child a head start in math and develop analytical skills necessary for algebra?  Mastery of the multiplication tables is essential to your child’s future.”
 
Francis published her innovative workbook to help other families. “If more of us would do for other people’s children what we do for our own, the world would be a better place.”
 
 
 

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

Friday, 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!

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

History of Mathematics on You Tube

Friday, 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?

Sunday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Saturday, 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.