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Posts Tagged ‘learn math’

Our flash cards were just launched. We believe the flash cards provide another tool to help students polish their math skills. We are starting with four subjects (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), each with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard). You can customize the flash cards to set how many problems per set, and whether or not you want a timer running during the practice. At the end, you will get a score and you can review problem by problem how you have done. To check it out, give it a try: GoldStudent Math Flash Cards.

GoldStudent Flash Cards - Options Screen

GoldStudent Flash Cards - Question and Answer

GoldStudent Flash Cards - Score and Review

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Happy Holidays
Happy holidays! The first semester of school is coming to an end. Some of our students are preparing for end-semester exams, and we are getting ready for the holidays. This is a good time to relax and recharge, to reflect on the past and to plan for the future. We wish you all a happy holiday season!

Recently I had a chance to attend a meeting where I heard Salman Khan speak. He is the founder of Khan Academy. This is a website that offers many free educational videos, hosted on YouTube, covering a wide range of topics. These videos focus on teaching one concept at a time. I like the visual way of teaching. Check it out at www.khanacademy.org. These videos are good complement to the worksheets we provide at GoldStudent, which help children master a math concept.

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We are well into the new school year by now. In my family, we have settled into a routine of driving to schools and then driving to sports after school. With three kids in three different schools and three different schedules, driving has been really hectic (no school bus system where we live). However, we believe it is important for our kids to have a balanced set of activities, that combines academics with sports and other things.

In my spare time, I have managed to squeeze in time to read a few really good books (mostly on planes when traveling for work). One that is worth sharing is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the author tries to share his observations of what he believes are the key elements that make people succeed. He highlights the importance of environment, talent, effort, and being at the right place at the right time. He points out that it may not be just coincidence that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Eric Smith (CEO of Google) were all born within a year of each other, signifying that the timing of the information technology revolution likely is a contributor to these super-successful innovators.

There are two things mentioned in this book that resonate strongly with me. The first is the 10,000 hours rule: He researched the experts in many fields, from computer programmers, to musicians, to mathematicians, and concludes that to truly become a master of something, one needs to not only have talent, but must also to put in about 10,000 hours to sufficiently master a subject, be it math or playing the violin.

The other is Gladwell’s observation as to why Asian children seem to be good at math. He points out two factors:

1) The Asian culture is such that parents and society believe that everyone can do math, and be good at elementary and high school-level math.

2) The Asian educational systems make students practice far more hours of math than what is expected in the U.S.. He believes that the cultural expectations (the environment) combined with the additional hours of practice drive the success of math education in China and other Asian countries.

Having grown up in China and gone through the Chinese education system, I cannot agree with him more. As far back as I can remember, adults around me, be it my parents, grandmother, or the neighbors’ children, who were just a few years older than me, would all ask me math problems as a daily routine and part of the daily play. When an entire community embraces math or education in this way, and in addition the schools assign significant homework assignments, it works: Children learn math extremely well. When a child in China was behind on his or her basic math skills, parents would find weekend tutors, or would tutor the kids at home themselves, to make sure their kids could keep up.

Will American culture evolve to the point where we will also expect all kids to be able to master basic math skills as do other cultures?

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A new school year has started. It happened way too soon for me and my family. Nevertheless, the new school year is here, with new schedules, new teachers, and new routines! My daughter, starting 10th grade, is taking calculus in zero period, which means the class starts at 7 am! Personally I think it is way too early to start a class for anyone, not to mention kids who still need more sleep to grow properly. I don’t remember ever having to take a class that early.

Watching my daughter move up in her math classes reminds me again how important it is to have a solid foundation. Without a strong foundation in arithmetic, fractions, algebra, exponentials, it is almost impossible to move on to functions, without which calculus and geometry is nearly impossible to learn. Once again, my husband and I are so glad that we helped our children build a strong math base from their elementary school days, those drills we did to prepare for math Superbowl. If you have kids still in elementary school, you may want to think of a way to do some regular math with your kids. The fruit of these efforts will show up years later and it is all worth it!

A big change in my family is that my niece from China came to live with us and will finish high school here. She is almost 16 and is attending a local private school. We were all very nervous about how she would manage the language and culture barrier. So far she is doing really well. In China, people think that American students have almost no homework, and that they can eat and drink in the classrooms. She was surprised to find that in fact American students have a fair amount of homework, and cannot eat or drink in the classroom. She was also surprised that the books here are so heavy, and that the students in high school have to move from one classroom to another. In China, high school students stay in the same room while the teachers change classrooms. She is happy, but surprised to find out that there appears to have less homework on weekends compared to weekdays, which is the opposite of what happens in the Chinese system, where teachers assign a lot of homework over the weekend because they think the students get two free days! Students in China cannot therefore take much time off to relax on the weekend. In the best case they get a half-day free, with the rest spent on homework or extra enhancement lessons.

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This summer just flew by. My family made a trip to China and visited our relatives. My kids also had a chance to interact with Chinese students of the same age as them, 13-18 years old. My daughter had a chance to share some American culture with the Chinese students, such as our major holidays, famous places in the US, and popular foods as well as American sports.

It is fascinating to see how the commercial companies have transferred US culture to other countries. All the Chinese students know McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Starbucks. They are amazed by the different types of breakfast cereals we have. You would be surprised to know which two holidays the junior high and high school students in China want to know about: Halloween and April Fool’s Day! We found that the Chinese students have much more homework and much more pressure to perform academically. All the students we met (about 80 in total) are taking extra classes to catch up from last year’s studies. Many will take just two to three weeks off during the summer, and will then start more supplemental classes to get a head start on next year’s classes, such as math, physics, and chemistry. For junior high and high school students, their typical school day goes from 8 am to 5 pm, and their homework will keep them busy until 11 pm every night.

I had a chance to look at the math textbooks for the 9th grade students. They are covering very similar topics to what is covered in the US. However, Chinese textbooks are much thinner, about 1” thick compared to the more than one inch thick books we use here. As a result, the textbooks are much lighter. Do our textbooks need to be so thick and heavy? I don’t know. I know that thicker does not mean better.

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Happy summer everyone! Public schools are out and the summer has really kicked in. Some of you may be on vacation, and some may be involved with summer camps and summer schools. It never hurts to combine fun and relaxation with creative and productive learning. If you can find just 10 minutes a day for your kids to do some math, it would help them remember the things they have learned, and would make the next school year easier. Also, if your kids are a bit behind on any math concepts, you can take advantage of summer time to catch up.

Using GoldStudent as a resource will make it easier for you. In my family, we use dinner time to have stimulating discussions on various topics. Also, if we take a road trip, we play games in the car to make it fun. The most popular game in our family is “20 questions”, where one person thinks of an object, and the others try to guess what it is. The goal is to identify the object while asking less than 20 yes-or-no questions.

Have you checked out our problem of the day? It is an easy way to have a different problem each day to work with your child. It just takes a couple of minutes, and you can make it a family activity to get everyone to work together on a math problem. Give it a try!

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