Sunday, April 08, 2012

interesting!  to improve arithmetic skills, they're channeling another means of intuition for children:
Math teachers know that fractions can be hard for the average third-grader. Teachers at a public school in San Bruno, Calif., just south of San Francisco, are trying something new. They're teaching difficult [0] math concepts through music, and they're getting remarkable results.

~ from "fractions curriculum strikes right note in CA" by caitlin esch (NPR).
there's more to the story, of course:
In this class, more than half the students are English-language learners. Classroom teacher Gina Grites says Academic Music has especially helped her students, such as a little girl who volunteers to solve a problem, even though she barely speaks English.

"She knew that it was four counts and put it into a fraction," Grites says. "Just to have her get up and present in front of a class is a really big deal, and she raised her hand and wanted to, so I'm seeing a lot of these kids open up and want to try it, instead of hiding behind the desk and saying, 'Please don't call on me.' "
now that is awesome: learning lessons independently of language .. well, not completely, but it's a good plus to the program.

another point of interest is that there is a basic level of fun involved: making music.  it naturally incorporates a change of pace, breaks away the tedium of rows upon rows of numbers.

that reminds me of when i was a boy, and computers were new to schools.  i loved playing number munchers during Computer class [1].

 also: those damnded troggles! (i.e. the purple dudes on the top row.)
i always came in second or third; there was this one kid that i could never beat, though i could spell better than him .. not that spelling matters anymore.

oh well: one less thing to worry about, i guess.

i think i'm getting .. not old [2], but set in my ways. for example, it wouldn't occur to me that
"If you say, what's bigger one-eighth or one-fourth, they'll say one-eighth because eight is bigger than four," Courey says. It's all about visualization.
unreal: even as a kid, this was crucial stuff!

i always imagined a pizza, how many slices to cut it,
and how much of a share i would get! q-:

[0] the author's words, not mine. perhaps we shouldn't dismiss fractions so quickly, though: i know plenty of adults who are bad with them ..

.. come to think of it, the expression $$\frac{a}{b} + \frac{c}{d} \;:=\; \frac{ad+bc}{bd}$$ looks like a messed-up determinant!

[1] i remember a classroom containing three rows of apple IIe's, and being told to be very careful with the startup disk, because the computer wouldn't load without it.  the punishment was to get a zero for the day and sit with a blank screen, while everyone else got to play.  (needless to say, everybody was incredibly careful.)

on a related note, yes: in elementary school, we had a specific class to learn how to use computers. later in junior high, i took a required typing class, and it sounds exactly like what it is: you were graded for how well you could type.

[2] if i call myself old, then by the transitive property, some of my colleagues which are older than me, are also old.  being that they'd give me an earful about this, i can't possibly be "old" quite yet. q-: