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forgetting the basics - please help

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by sashh, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. I'm not a maths specialist but I'm tutoring a friend's son (she can't afford a tutor before anyone says get a propper tutor).
    He took GCSE a year early then no maths for a year and has started A Level. I've been going through C1 papers with him and he seems to have completely forgoten what to do although he can tell you what to do.
    eg
    rearanging a formula to make r the subject
    y=xrz
    So I aks him what he is going to do and he says, "what you do to one side of the equation you have to do to the otherside" - OK so far s good

    so his next move is to write down
    y-r=xz
    So we had a discussion about r being multiplied by xz so -r woun't take it away he seems to understand and then does the same sort of thing again.

    Multiplication and division are also giving trouble - he couldn't do long multiplication,he can sort of do the grid method exccept that when he adds at the end he might add the 10 column to the hundred.
    So have taught 'old fashioned' long multiplication and division.
    Bizarely he can do polynomial long dividion but ask him to divide 125 by 33 and he was lost.

    So basically any hints and tips? Has anyone come accross this before? Obviously the gap with no maths hasn't helped, but things he knows he is not applying.

    At the moment we are going through C1 papers with him writing down what he needs to do before attempting the questions so eg if the question gives you two points on a straight line then he has to write down the formula he will be using.
    Well that was the theory, he wrote down x - x1 / x2 - x3

    So we are writing all the formulae in a a formulae book.
    I've known this child since he was 11, he is intelligent but I know he is quite lazy (typical teenager) but is that masking something like dyslexia? He also told me he got confused because the same equation in maths gives a different answer in physics!!!
    His teacher has finished all the C1 material, he takes the exam in January. His class are now doing S1 which he is enjoying and getting good marks for. I've told him I can't help with stats, I never did them.

    Basically any ideas?



     
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    The problem is here:
    Although C1 is a non-calculator paper, he should not need to use long multiplication or long division algorithms so his weakness in this area should not prove a problem. I find lack of facility with fractions to be more of an issue.
    To teach changing the subject, students are often more successful if the formula contains numbers they recognise rather than being fully-algebraic. Tell him to substitute any numbers given into the formula before he changes the subject and you will probably find he can do it.
     
  3. DM

    DM New commenter

    The problem is here:
    Although C1 is a non-calculator paper, he is unlikely to need long multiplication or long division algorithms so his weakness in this area should not prove a problem. I find lack of facility with fractions to be more of an issue.
    To teach changing the subject, students are often more successful if the formula contains numbers they recognise rather than being fully algebraic. Tell him to substitute any numbers given into the formula before he changes the subject and you will probably find he can do it.
     
  4. afterdark

    afterdark Occasional commenter

    This part of your description suggests problems switching between the many different uses of juxtaposition in mathematics.
    students who effortlessly switch between juxtaposition meaning multiply for algebra, place value in numbers and add for fractions focus more on the idea being shown.
    Put him through some algebra practice, the 10 ticks has lots of stuff.
    this serves 2 purposes, it helps him revise that which he has forgotten and may allow you pinpoint what, if anything, is going on his head. Is he paying full attention?
    Whilst teenagers may be loath to revise, sometimes it flags up hidden misconceptions. On the most part these days it is lack of retention due to insuffient practice...A personal comparison I did brought 200 of some sub types of question compared with 5 for many teens today.
    I recall my A level teacher giving 120 questions for homework in one lesson alone from Dakin & Porter.
    There is nothing like extra practice.

     
  5. Thanks

    Yes I thought the GCSE early and then no more maths was not a good idea - but the school was closing, teachers leaving and, well lets face it, league tables only care about A*-C not prepping for A Level.
     

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