Rick’s Math Web has three primary purposes. First, it’s here to help you find K-12 math curriculum for your children quickly, easily and inexpensively. Second, this site will help you effectively learn the basics needed to teach important math skills to your children so they become math champions. And third, if you don’t know how to solve the problems, Rick’s Math Web will help you understand what you’re teaching so you can help your kids!
1. Finding the right curriculum. Simply go to the index to find problems similar to those your child is working on; then click your browser’s print button for a worksheet that will print nicely onto a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. Please note that there are separate worksheets for Netscape’s Navigator and Microsoft’s Explorer.
2. Learning the basics of teaching. This point is a lot more complex and is addressed below. It’s fairly long, but don’t let that intimidate you. You may want to bookmark this page now and return to it from time to time as your teaching skills progress and questions arise. Welcome to the world of education!
3. Learning thing you don’t know or remember. Each of the areas of Rick’s Math Web has a Tips and Tricks section that goes through problem solving with step-by-step instructions. Math is a skill that requires a lot of practice. The Tips and Tricks areas are designed to provide you with examples and how-to knowledge that’ll make you a competent math problem solver…no matter how rusty you feel!
Broad Guidelines For Teaching Math Successfully:
Determine what problems the learner is having trouble with or needs to know. Use the Tips and Tricks sections for guidance.
So to help your learner develop math skills, begin by helping them acquire the basic facts in the above areas. For addition problems, the basic facts begin with understanding what 1+1 is and 2+2 and so on. Learning these basic facts may require some external motivation, but as the learner acquires (memorizes) these facts it’s important to taper off the external motivation or supply it only at various intervals.
Follow this teaching sequence to teach a new skill to a learner:
Begin with one or two problems a day and add one problem per day while reviewing the previous days problems. Rationing out problems like this daily should increase a learner’s math skills without overwhelming the learner or causing a loss of motivation.
For most learners, 5-20 problems per day is enough. Others, however, can and will solve many, many problems without losing motivation and gain confidence…it’s up to you, teacher, to get to know your learner and how to get them going. Remember, you can always find help by looking under the “Tips and Tricks” section of each subject. This area is intended to provide you with the appropriate building blocks for each section of math covered here. You will be much more successful if you make sure that your learner COMPLETELY and THOUROUGHLY knows the facts covered in each “Tips and Tricks” section here at Rick’s.
For the unmotivated learner, try setting small rewardable goals for memorizing the basic facts. Then move on to the worksheets for that section. Remember, for some learners beginning and completing one problem is a goal worthy of a reward.
As a teacher, you’ll have to face the same concerns I do in the classroom. One of those concerns is called “learner motivation.” I keep mentioning motivation simply because it’s difficult to teach your child (or any child for that matter) math skills when they don’t want to learn math or are unmotivated to learn. So, how do WE get them motivated without yelling, screaming and building resentment? First, you need to understand that there are two forms of motivation…one is called extrinsic motivation and the other is called intrinsic motivation.
1. Extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation involves praise, reward or punishment/threats for a learners’ performance. For example, if a learner completes a worksheet from this site and receives candy or TV or video game privileges they have received extrinsic, or external, motivation to perform math problems. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the learner, the task, and the “incentive” or motivator. You’ll have to experiment with rewards and the size of the assignment or goal. For some learners, doing one problem is worthy of a reward. For other learners, doing 40 problems is worthy of a reward. It’s up to you, new teacher, to know and understand your student. Good luck!
2. Intrinsic Motivation. Another form of motivation is called intrinsic motivation. As educators WE encourage kids to intrinsically do stuff like math problems just for the challenge, the practice, and for the sake of building on their current skills. An example would be a learner receiving an assignment and, after understanding what to do, setting off to do it without any incentive or reward, other than a completed assignment and enhanced math skills. Usually these learners are goal-oriented and realize that the sooner they get to a task, the sooner it will be over. Please keep in mind that fatigue or distractions can keep even the best students off task.
In both cases above, the learner realizes a benefit. One is a “tangible” reward and the other is an “intangible” reward or feeling of accomplishment. As educators, WE must work with both types of learners, regardless of whether we have a preference for the extrinsically or or intrinsically motivated learner. It is, however, the intrinsically motivated learner that is usually easier to handle and more willing to begin and complete assignments.
So how do WE turn unmotivated, extrinsically motivated learners into motivated, intrinsically motivated learners? First, let’s turn our attention to to the unmotivated learner.
If your learner is unmotivated to learn or has what I call math resentment, then it’s important for you to understand what’s behind this reluctance to learn. A reluctance to learn caused by psychological, (e.g., hopelessness, anxiety/depression, etc), physical (e.g., chronic stomachaches, earaches, etc), or behavioral issues (e.g., hyperactivity, impulsiveness, inattentiveness, etc) is a major concern since this will impair the learning process.
Lack of motivation due to the above reasons fall beyond the scope of this site since those feelings may be initial signs of a serious problem. If you suspect this is the case, I urge you to seek appropriate help from school or health care professionals immediately. It’s important for the learner to address these issues then get back on track again with learning math.
On the other hand, if you think that your child’s math skills may need more practice or if you or they need explainations for certain problems then you’ve come to the right place.