Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Math Homework Guidelines

It is amazing the things we just assume that everyone knows how to do, like riding a bike or going for a swim or even brushing your teeth. But the only reason we can do these things is because we were shown and taught how to do them properly. Not many people see a bike for the first time then hop up on it and start doing wheelie’s, why then do we assume that kids know how to do their math homework when in reality they have never probably been shown how to do it right.
First we start off with the common sense basics that everyone should know
1)      You need a quiet distraction free place to do your homework. Music and TV don’t mix well with homework.
2)      Don’t leave your homework until the last minute like just before bedtime or while eating breakfast. Do your homework shortly after you get back from school so it’s not hanging over you.
3)      Focus and don’t get bogged down in the detail. If you are spending way too much time on a piece of homework, just try your best and move on. Homework shouldn’t take all night.
Those were the easy ones but the most important. Do the simple things right and homework becomes’ much easier. If you get into the habit of doing your homework straight after school you will really find that you do a better and quicker job.
Now that we’ve shown you how and when you should attempt your homework how do you ensure you do a good job?
First off I’d say is tackle the homework you least enjoy first. If you put this off and leave it until last you will inevitably do a tired and rushed job on it. If you love English, I’ll bet if you leave it until last you’ll still put in the time and effort it needs.
For the more complex subjects like math it really helps to have a study guide or some reference material that covers the math topics you learnt in class. Of course you have your textbook but this can be a struggle to follow and how often do you come home ‘knowing’ how to do your math because you got it in class then open the textbook and get confused? I would recommend if you have access to an internet connection to try an online tutor service. For math, these can be exactly what you need to reinforce the concepts you learnt in class, ensuring you have the knowledge for life. Studies have shown that if you revise a math topic a couple of hours after first learning it, the knowledge is much more likely to stick. Modern innovative online math tutors offer videos explaining the concepts in your textbook and are now as cheap as $25 a year.
So remember that math homework doesn’t have to be a struggle.
1)      Setup a routine of doing your homework early in a quiet distraction free place.
2)      Focus and do the difficult parts first.
3)      Get an online Math Resource to help revise.
Then get out and enjoy yourself, don’t let homework ruin your day it really doesn’t have to be that hard.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Technology can help with Math Benchmark Testing

Even the mention of benchmark testing will bring some math teachers out in a rash, but with the holiday season upon us then benchmark testing is not far behind. Benchmark testing for those who don’t know is a test run about two thirds way through the year and the idea is to benchmark the students to see the standard that has been achieved so far by the school. These benchmark results then go towards grant allocations and school ratings.
The real problem with benchmark testing for parents is that the school needs them to be organised, run and corrected by the teachers but there is no extra funding available for this so pressure is put on the teachers to achieve this for free, in their spare time.
Traditionally benchmark testing is a long and arduous process involving the teacher creating the exam, organising the students to sit the exam, correcting the results and then correlating all the results to give overall benchmark results for the school. There really must be a better way and now thanks to the web and online math helper websites there is. This year the benchmark testing in many schools will be very different. The teachers will have many different options to make the whole process so much easier with the help of online math tutor websites they will get the benchmarking done and get to keep their free time.
These online solutions are also not only for the technophiles too because there will be very simple solutions too that will aid any teacher. I’ll go through each of the possible ways an online resource might speed up the whole process
  • Downloadable Exams - The most basic is to access these sites and download a printable benchmark test which is matched to the textbook you use in class. This can be distributed to the class and the results easily matched against an online answer sheet. This helps the teacher by having the exam already designed and ready for use but the teacher still needs to correct and correlate the results.
  • Download Exam and Upload Results – This is where the teacher can download a printable exam then for each student upload the answers and the websites will correct and collate the answers. An improvement on the last one but still the extra work of uploading the exam answers is a burden the teacher could do without.
  • Online Benchmark Testing – This is the ideal where a teacher picks the benchmark test and allocates it to their class. The class then logon to the website and do the exam. This has huge advantages in that with minimal effort the teacher has accurate collated results but of course this assumes the school has a full computer lab.
In reality I think the move towards a fully online exam is still a little way off but it’s the direction we will inevitably move. Pioneers are trying to achieve this now and new online services are sprouting up which will offer these and even more innovative solutions to the problems of benchmark testing. Let’s hope for all our sakes it just isn’t toofar off.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can Videos Help you with your Math Homework?

Modern teens are digital natives and super-communicators, they have grown up surrounded by digital technology to enable communication and intuitively embrace it. The latest technology holds no fear even for the youngest students, they seem to just naturally understand how it all works and use new technology with ease. How often have you seen a young one or two year-old child playing with a mobile phone and they seem to know exactly what to do with it?

If we can use these natural and accepted mediums to communicate the education services a student needs they are much more likely to connect and use these services. The old model of a classroom lesson delivered to bored students followed by a textbook aided homework assignment has failed to inspire a large number of students with many students struggling to stay focused. We need to replace this with a system that will interest them and allow kids to learn to enjoy the education they are being offered.

Show me a teenager who doesn’t watch TV? According to Nielsen watching TV among teens is actually up 6% over the past 5 years. Basically kids love to watch videos and are easily engaged by videos. From a very early age teens have accepted TV and videos as an easy way to get information and entertainment fast. Anyone who deals with teens will tell you that once you engage and interest them, they become like a sponge for information and will learn quickly and permanently.

There are a host of new young online video tutors betting that kids will accept educational services through online videos and are offering textbook linked on-demand video tutor lessons. These work by allowing a student to access a video lesson of each chapter on their textbook. The student has total control of the video and can consume it whenever or wherever suits them. This on-demand video model matches exactly how students communicate and get entertainment and will enable them to get their education quickly and easily too.

The key to making an online video tutor a success is to ensure that first off it is affordable. It needs to be at a price point that ensures price is not a barrier, with services available from $25 per year I think we are already there. Next it needs to be to the point and entertaining, a student does not want to sit through another long boring math class at home, they want a fun engaging and quick lesson that just gives them the information they need. A verbose long winded lesson littered with long technical mathematical terms will never work. Finally it has to be relevant and easy to use. The video has to very closely match the textbook based homework that has been assigned and it must be quick and intuitive in its user interface.

An online video tutor that cracks all of these will be a sure fire success and already there are some prime candidates out there already.