Sunday, December 13, 2015

Math for Tutors

I'm scheduled to give a math teaching seminar next month for a local nonprofit that tutors kids in urban neighborhoods. The primary focus of the program is language arts but inevitably, kids need help with their math homework.

The tutors are all volunteers and in terms of mathematical ability and comfort level, they range from artists to rocket scientists (and keep in mind, in Los Angeles, the term "rocket scientist" is not a euphemism).

Fractions and decimals are a frequent area of difficulty for many of the volunteers, so I was asked to put together an introduction and some basic teaching tips on the topic. I was also asked to address another area of great frustration for the tutors, Common Core.

How can you come up with a productive two-hour presentation on mathematical pedagogy with an audience that ranges from BFA's in drama to PhD's in engineering?

My partial solution was to come up with some quick, short, simple videos on basic topics like prime factors and using scientific calculators. You can see the first two on the blog's YouTube channel. They aren't pretty and the sound quality is somewhat embarrassing in places, but I'm hoping that they might provide enough of the background for me to jump directly into doing examples without having to spend significant amounts of time explaining the basics.

If you're curious, take a look. Any and all feedback is appreciated.

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