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Algebraic x

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by DeborahCarol, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    May seem trivial, but...as a tutor, I've noticed that only a minority of my secondary students write an algebraic 'x' (sorry, can't do one here!). They write 'x' as in multiplication sign. They maintain that they're not expected to at school, and are surprised (and even resistant!) when asked to correct their work.
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Yes, here in the fatherland, I've also noticed this. When I mention the possible confusion with multiplication they might say they have been told to put in extra brackets or use a dot for multiplication.

    Using an algebraic x is more often more elegant, so hopefully with enough encouragement more students will adopt a better style.
  3. Many kids can't even write at that age so I see it as a bonus. TBH as nice as it would be Im not really fussed. I prefer to use the dot for multiplication and let everything else ride.
  4. mmmmmaths

    mmmmmaths New commenter

    Proper 'curly' x all the time for all pupils of all ages and ability. Never had a problem with this. They know why they are asked to do it and younger ones seem to enjoy the "grown up" nature of using it. Having said that I still say and write formulae rather than formulas, as used in more recent text books, so maybe I am just a dinosaur!
  5. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    From the teacher viewpoint I can tell some children until I am blue in the face and demonstrate on the board and write notes in their books and they will stubbornly refuse to do it anything other than the same as a times sign! Doesn't help that in many textbooks/worksheets (e.g. 10 ticks) they are written as a normal x
  6. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    That could well be the reason for the growing prevalence of 'x'. (Must admit, when designing my own worksheets, I couldn't find an algebraic x in the fonts!)
  7. DM

    DM New commenter

    If you are writing worksheets in Word you might like to use Microsoft Equation Editor or Microsoft Equation (depending on what version of Word you are using).
  8. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    Ah yes, thanks DM! (So no excuse really for 'Ten Ticks' et al.)
  9. I do also obviously see the need/desire for an algebraic x, but interestingly during my maths degree, almost all of my professors/lecturers (respectable Russel Group university) wrote algebraic x's as normal x's and so I picked up the habit. Gone back to curly x's as a teacher of course!
  10. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    I have always used some sort of curly x for an unknown, and a 'straight' one for the operation.

    Then, after 20+ years teaching I met an American teacher who uses a straight x for both.

    She is one of the best teachers I have met, so I am not going to expect to change too much.
  11. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    One throwback for me from uni Matrhs is writing a z in maths with a horizontal line through it - confuses the children no end! I have to admit to not being able to remember what x's my uni tutors did - they wrote it all up so quickly on the blackboards for us to copy down I was concnetrating on copying not noticing the x's.
  12. headofmaths

    headofmaths New commenter

    I was taught to write a curly x anyway when I learned joined up writing. Aaaagh, but with computers maybe they don't do this now.

    Now the z with a line through it, I used to do that with the joined up z as otherwise it looks like a 3, but then I changed the z in my writing and I don't seem to have an issue with a standard z and a 2 so I don't see the need now.

    I do remember a lecure at uni with two Greek letters that I couldn't tell apart in his handwriting (zeta and ksi). since I couldn't follow what was going on at the same time as writing it all down (a lesson for the classroom?!) I guessed each time and couldn't work it out afterwards either!
  13. When writing a worksheet in MS word I use the find and replace function in the edit drop down menu. Replace x with x. (Itallic x) then replace all, just be careful you don't use words with x in them ir if you do make a mental note and go back and change the itallics back. Saves a lot of time.
  14. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    I was puzzled by the number of my (adult) students using italic x as a multiplication sign. When I got Word 2007, I worked out the reason: they were typing an ordinary x, and Word was (quite reasonably) assuming that it was a variable which needed italicising. Fortunately I managed to get them sorted out before we started doing algebra.
    Most annoying notation: a Heinemann textbook, where it appeared that some non-mathematician dealing with the answers section had changed the stylesheet, so that italics were used instead of bold. Marking an exercise on vectors suddenly became much harder - perhaps surprisingly, since I would not have turned a hair at equating bold with handwritten/underlined.

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