Dr Nic’s blog

11 February 2019

Patterns, Mathematics and Statistics

Is mathematics really about patterns? Confession time: Just as I’ve never really thought of maths as beautiful, I’ve struggled to understand why people talk about maths being about patterns. For me maths is powerful and maths is about abstracting from reality to build models. So I thought I would explore the idea of patterns in mathematics. Number Numbers show patterns. The fact that all prime numbers over 3 occur on either side of a multiple of six, is pattern I find appealing. The digits of multiples of three sum to multiples of three. Multiples of eleven are pretty exciting with […]
16 January 2019

Learning Progression Framework – A good idea or a poor use of time?

Not all that is good needs to be done That something is a good thing to do and will improve learning outcomes for all students, is not sufficient reason for doing it. I have recently become aware of the Learning Progression Framework. As explained in a previous post, there are multiple ways of expressing the level of learning in maths for learners in New Zealand schools, including the New Zealand curriculum (broad brush), Numeracy project stages (fine uni-dimensional and embraced by Primary teachers) and National Standards (no longer current, but casting a long shadow.) To this the LPF adds steps, […]
3 December 2018

I just need to pass the course: instrumental learning and statistics

I am interested in instrumental motivation, when a learner is doing a course of study in order to get a piece of paper – a qualification, which is generally the means to an end. I suspect that many students of statistics have instrumental motivation and I am interested in what affect that has on their learning and on the teacher of the course. Personal experience of learning All my life I have been a high-achieving, engaged learner. I liked to learn and to become more knowledgeable. I still like to learn and am not interested in any more qualifications. I […]
13 November 2018

Conceptual knowledge and procedural fluency when teaching maths and stats

Conceptual vs procedural when teaching maths and stats April 2008, Salt Lake City. It was my first NCTM conference and I was awed by the number of dedicated teachers of mathematics in one place. I had soaked in a pre-conference series about teaching statistics and my head was full of revolutionary ideas. I can’t remember the workshop I was attending but I declared that I saw no point in teaching students to calculate standard deviations by hand – and that I never did. The response was awesome! There was just about a stand-up battle between teachers who agreed with me […]
26 October 2018

Evaluating Mathematics Games

Evaluating Mathematics Games A guest post by Dr Shane Dye How can you choose the right mathematics games for your classroom? Games are engaging but sometimes that engagement distracts from the learning. Can a game be both engaging and support learning? How will you know? Dr Nic and I have been pondering those questions recently. We were developing a multiplication facts card game. The game had to be a great choice for teachers. It needed a solid educational foundation and to easily engage students. That led us to think about evaluating games for the mathematics classroom. We looked at the […]
8 October 2018

Mathematics is Powerful

Mathematics is powerful The message of the moment is that Mathematics is beautiful and mathematics is playful. In my social media bubble of mathematics teachers the over-riding picture is of the joy of mathematics. I see puzzles and brainteasers aplenty on Facebook and Twitter. Mathematics educators strive to dispel the cloud of pain and drill that surrounds maths for far too many people. This site and our social enterprise are called Creative Maths, because we wish to create a world of mathematicians. The joy of maths is a wonderful message, that resonates with people like me, who already love maths. […]
18 September 2018

Understanding the Sampling Distribution

Population, Sample, Sampling distribution of the mean Among the many contenders for Dr Nic’s confusing terminology award is the term “Sampling distribution.” One problem is that it is introduced around the same time as population, distribution, sample and the normal distribution. A common confusion is between the standard error and the standard deviation. Here is how I explain it: Basic idea of inferential statistics Whenever we take a sample it will contain sampling error, which can also be described as sampling variation. No sample is a perfect representation of the population. When you calculate a sample mean, you do not […]
9 August 2018

Fun Mathematics activities for families

Mathematics is fun There are many cool, fun and exciting things you can do that are mathematical. However, parents can be a bit scared of maths because of bad experiences that left them thinking they were not mathematically inclined. Other parents may be very happy about maths, but not know what to do with their children to help them also enjoy maths. Like reading to children, doing fun maths with children can help build learning and positive feelings for life. Here is a rule: If it isn’t fun, you are doing it wrong. Do not make maths a chore or, […]
25 June 2018

Introducing Cat Maths cards, activities, games and lessons

The Cat Maths cards are amazing Cat Maths cards are available now. The cards are versatile, engaging and afford multiple learning opportunities in mathematics, including statistics. There are also a whole range of games you can play with them, appealing to different people. Children learn well in games, and these rich and varied cards allow for a wide range of games that teach concepts and skills through their mechanisms. We would love you to buy through our shop or by emailing us. Or you will be able to buy The Cat Pack in retail stores in New Zealand. We are […]
16 June 2018

Numeracy crisis in New Zealand

Numeracy levels are reaching crisis point An article in Stuff on 16 June 2018,  We are barely functioning, literally, highlighted the problem of literacy and numeracy in New Zealand. The article focusses on literacy, but numeracy levels are possibly worse. This comes as no surprise to me. The problem according to Doctor Nic The lack of numeracy skills is not new. Generations of people have struggled with maths and many suffer maths trauma, where even the thought of working with numbers can cause symptoms such as panic, the brain shutting down, tears, avoidance. Maths evokes your classic fight, flight or […]