kitchen table math, the sequel: 7/31/11 - 8/7/11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

math worksheets

Terrific new site:
Math Aids is a free resource for teachers, parents, students, and homeschoolers. You can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for children, the classroom or homework practice. The flexibility and text book quality of the math worksheets, makes Math-Aids.Com a very unique resource for people wanting to create and use math worksheets. The answer key is included with the math worksheets as it is created. The math worksheets are randomly and dynamically generated by our math worksheet generators. Each math topic has several different types of math worksheets to cover various types of problems you may choose to work on.

We currently have math worksheets for Addition, Division, Exponents, Fact Family, Factors, Fractions, Geometry, Graphing, Greater Than Less Than, Kindergarten, Mean Mode Median & Range, Measurement, Mixed Problems, Money, Multiplication, Number Bonds, Number Lines, PEMDAS, Place Value, Pythagorean Theorem, Radicals, Ratios, Rounding, Subtraction, Telling Time, and Word Games. We are adding new math worksheets to the site every day so visit us often. We will be glad to design any math worksheets you might need for your Lesson Planning. Just drop us a line we will be happy to assist you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

dopamine shmopamine

Sorry for the absence - I am in research hell. Trying to figure out dopamine, prediction error, Go and No Go, impaired learning from rewards in people with Parkinson's who are taking l dopa and on and on and on.

I don't understand the basal ganglia.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is it Weird or is it Wrong?*

*From the Introduction to The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar.

"Is it weird or is it wrong" was my process for the SAT Writing Section (pre-Erica).

Here's how I scored in 2011, "by ear," as an adult:

It is worth noting that:
1) I do not recall ever being taught grammar in school.

2) I do remember being told by an English teacher that a comma happens when you feel a pause. I believed that was "the official comma rule" for about 35 years.

3) I worked in book publishing for over two decades and am a voracious reader.
Point #1 is probably a universal truth for American-educated kids facing the SAT today, as is some variation of point #2.

According to Erica:
Most of my students had little to no familiarity with grammatical terminology, so rather than simply reviewing concepts and offering up a couple of tricks, I had to teach them virtually all of the fundamentals of grammar.

Point #3 probably makes me an anomaly.

Given that the average SAT Writing score is 492, I can not think of one reason why every student facing the SAT should not own their own copy of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar. This is THE definitive guide to the SAT Writing section (and trust me, I've examined most others).

Erica is the most precise human being I have ever met with regard to SAT grammar. I have visions of her picking through single words in the Blue Book as if individual blades of grass. To give you some idea:
Furthermore, I noticed that specific kinds of questions always showed up at specific points in the test. For example:

-Faulty comparisons almost always showed up in the last three Error-Identification questions, as did certain kinds of tricky subject-verb agreement questions.

-The final Fixing Sentences question (#11 in the first Writing section, #14 in the second) very frequently dealt with parallel structure.
Are you starting to get the picture?
When I first started picking apart exams and grouping their questions by category, I did not quite understand why the College Board chose to focus so heavily on certain types of errors (subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, parallel structure) and virtually ignore others. Contrary to what most guides say, “who vs. whom” is not actually tested on the SAT, even though who, and very occasionally whom, are underlined on various questions. Then, as a tutor, I read the writing of high school students – lots of them. And I started to notice that most of their writing was full of the exact errors tested on the SAT. Here it seems that the College Board does actually know what it’s doing.

The other point worth noting about this book is that she includes the indices from the Blue Book broken down by category. So in other words, if you need to find a bunch of dangling modifier questions to practice on, flip to the back of this book and you'll find them cross referenced by page and test/problem number.

Illustration by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Full disclosure: I scoured the book about 10 times for missing punctuation and spacing errors in the 11th hour, in exchange for tutoring time with Erica. It was a labor of love and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

public service announcement - marijuana is stronger today

Around these parts most adults, including therapists who treat adolescents, seem to agree that marijuana is a reasonably benign drug parents shouldn't get too worked up about. I have now heard of at least three different therapists advising parents not to lower the boom when they learned their child was smoking pot.

That has never seemed right to me, possibly because it isn't right:

A: Marijuana has gotten stronger.

B: Marijuana use is causally related to development of schizophrenia in some cases.

C: Marijuana use is associated with lower educational attainment.

D: The younger you begin using it, the more dangerous its effects (and vice versa).

We've been pretty ferocious on the subject of drugs.

We told C, in these words: We have two kids with major brain problems; we don't want another one. [synchronicity alert: C has just this moment come into the room to tell me he's watching a really good show called Weeds. sigh]

Anyway, we told C. that if we found out he was drinking or using drugs, he would be spending his entire adolescence inside our house.

That has worked out pretty well, in part because C. is a fairly easy kid to manage, as kids go, and in part because the other kids in his school all got the same ruling from their own folks, who appear to mean business. C. has one friend whose parents ground him for a year. And that was just for drinking, albeit a whole lot of drinking, according to C.

I realize that some kids are easier to manage than others, but still. As I understand it (no time to fact-check at the moment), the later a person begins using any kind of drug, the better, and we've told this to C on several occasions. When C. was a freshman, I attended a lecture given by a mom whose son died of heroin addiction; her husband, the boy's step-dad, told us that a parent's job is to get his child to age 21 without drinking or using drugs.

Few parents are going to hit that mark, but Ed and I have found that having the mark is extremely helpful.

Now C. is lying on the sofa laughing over some DARE counselor who crashed the DARE van into a tree because he was drunk. Haha!

Actually, that is pretty funny. I'm not a fan of DARE.

I'm a fan of grounding your kid for a year if need be.

Teri W on French & karate

another demi-tiger mom:
My daughter started karate when she was 5, my son started as soon as he could after that, when he turned 4. So they've both been going for a few years now. My husband is *very* on-board with martial arts, damn the cost (and it's not cheap!), though he doesn't seem quite so worried about any other lessons they may take.

We argued over foreign language -- he wanted them to take Spanish, but I was conversational in French during my teens and I knew that I'd never get past Dora stage in Spanish, the way my brain works these days. So now, they take French immersion classes once a week and I play catch-up with Rosetta Stone and we're able to have little conversations.

And music? Yoiks. We paid to have my parents' piano moved to our house from their house ... and then two years later paid THE SAME PEOPLE to come and just make it go away. Oh, well.

Karate and French, it is!

Anonymous on kids

Anonymous writes:
This thread is fascinating to me. My children are 25, 27, and 30. I could no more have "Tiger Mommed" them than I could have flown to the moon, because they had their own ideas about what they would commit to. One became a zookeeper (this means getting a degree in zoology, which means passing all kinds of math, chemistry, and physics classes that she found very hard and very boring. One did one semester in college and dropped out, but is a fabulous writer -- always has been, since grade school. Hope she gets to earn her living at it. Third bumbled around, chose his own instrument and his own sport (and at the time of his choice). Had a wild youth. Is now in college and working -- all this to say, you can insist of some things with pretty much all kids (you must go to school, you must help with chores, you must attend family events) but after that, children are extremely variable in terms of how hard you can push, and especially if you don't have a thousands or years old culture backing you up.