Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recommendation For Math Retention

Review math lessons instantly. Do not allow a lot of time to pass before reviewing what you just learned.  Don’t wait until pieces of information start slipping away from your short term memory, and strain your brain trying to remember how things fit together. Quick reviews and some practice will take the information from your short term memory into your long term memory. The more you review and practice the longer you will retain the information.

Exercise critical thinking in your review. Try to contemplate the lesson and find the ‘why’ and ‘how’ about the method or approach. You can also try to see if you can find a different or similar way to get to the same conclusion. You can also challenge yourself to find easier steps to reach the answer. This will empower your comprehension of the math lesson, since you are looking at it from a critic stand point. Always try to do a little more than you think you need do. It doesn’t hurt to surpass and go a little bit beyond your comfort zone. It can only help in the long run. 
Avoid high level frustration. Although you should be doing work all by yourself, yet, when you get stuck in a math problem and can’t find your way through the problem, seek outside help. Don’t allow frustration get the best of you. You want have fun while learning the subject. You should ask or let someone else help you get past the hurdle and then finish it yourself. The helper should only facilitate your learning process not do the work for you. You will reach a good level of comprehension, and therefore good level of retention, if you are doing most of the work yourself.
Study with a buddy. Sometimes studying with someone else, at the same level as yourself, will immensely help speed up comprehension. When you are studying with someone else you are actually exchanging information and ideas, and attempting to answer each other’s questions. Like they say, two heads are better than one.  How many times have you found the right answer you are looking for just by listening to yourself ask the question to another person? On the other hand, the other person might just ask the right question that will trigger the lost answer in your head to pop right out. Also, explaining or attempting to explain material to another person significantly increases your understanding and retention of the subject matter.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to Study Math and Have Fun in Learning it

Learning math should be no different than learning another subject or another language, or should be perceived as such. It can be just as easy or as hard as any other subject based on how you approach it. Putting a mental block about any subject will make it very hard to learn and comprehend; however, removing that mental block and believing in your ability to master the subject will dramatically change the way your brain will start processing mathematical instructions. You shouldn’t think of it as a challenge, rather, as a fun to learn activity.  True the subject can be hard at first, but will progressively get easier.
Math concepts are interconnected with each other. You must master the prior concept to understand the one after it. Going back to the very basic concepts, you will never be good at division or multiplication if you haven’t mastered addition and subtraction. If you’re never comfortable with multiplication and division, you will never make it through Algebra, and so on. So tackle all the basic concepts first, spend some time reviewing easier material, making sure you’re not missing anything, or have forgotten how to do certain things, and have fun learning it. If you find yourself lost or frustrated, you shouldn’t panic, it is Ok to be frustrated at some point, its part of the learning process, just don’t give up. Just remember that once you get over the first few hurdles and continue to follow the instructions, it will turn into a fun learning activity.
The way I like to look at mathematics is that it is fundamentally built on addition and subtraction, a skill that students should become good in second grade. So if you build up your addition skills so that you are able to mentally add two digits fairly quickly, you should be able to master multiplication and division. Beyond that, it is just learning about different approaches to solve different problems utilizing a set of procedures that you just need to pay a little attention to. I believe that if you approach mathematics in this manner, you shouldn’t have a problem advancing into higher levels. Actually, I feel you would have a lot of fun learning math from then on that is if you don’t mind putting some time and effort to study and practice.
What to do to become good in math and start having fun learning it?
To become good in math you need to do a significant amount of work. Math is not a passive activity that you can learn by reading text books or watching a lecture. You need to actively get involved in the subject, do a great deal of exercises, and a lot of practice, and don’t forget to have lots fun with the learning process. It is like learning any other skill. When we learn a new skill, we first follow basic (step by step) guidelines. With practice, we start getting better at it, and with more effort our performance improves. You can think of it like any sport activity, you cannot become a good athlete by watching and reading about other athletes, you have to get in the field and practice what you learn till you become naturally good at it. At that point, it will progressively become a fun to learn activity that you enjoy doing. In addition, habitual practice will keep math less challenging and more fun and enjoyable.