Friday, June 9, 2017

Dear Parents,

Dear Parents,

The school year is over.  Your children are yours!  

Over the break, you can be your children’s best math teacher.  I am not asking you to do any kind of tutoring.  However, there is so much that you can do just in your normal family life.  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.  At the end, I have put some internet links that you may also find useful.

A key point to remember is that the things you do together should be natural.  Look at “problems” as you see or use them.  Don’t make up artificial situations just to “challenge” your children.  It is also important to listen to your children’s thinking.  It may not be the same as yours, but see if it makes sense.  Finally, don’t try to take advantage of every situation.  You don’t want them to feel as if doing something with mom or dad will always means a math lesson!

Point out to your middle schooler how math is being used all around you.  Talk about it, explain how you are using it, and ask for your children’s help in different situations.
    Image result for summer vacation clipart free
  • Traveling:  There is plenty to do while on the road.  Your children can keep track of expenses and distances traveled.  They can read maps and schedules and make basic conversions for currency.  Use and explain estimation skills.  Get some math puzzles or apps (logic, number, patterns, etc.) for long flights or road trips.
  • Shopping:  There is a whole world of opportunity in a supermarket.  Figure out what the costs of certain items will be if you buy six (or however many you need) of a particular item.  Estimate how many cans are on a shelf.  Explain how you decide which product is a better buy.
  • Sports:  Track a favorite team or player’s statistics. 
  • Take a trip to a museum, observatory, or library. Critical thinking, even if not directly math-related, is a good thing. Expose your son or daughter to lots of interesting new ideas to think about.
  • All children can benefit from being involved with cooking.  Measuring and comparing skills get a good workout.  For some students, it will be good practical reading practice, too! 
  • Weather.  Keep track of the weather.  Compare the weather where you are spending the summer with what is happening in Tashkent.  Make a graph or chart of highs and lows or rainfall.  Compare to the averages.
  • Also, all children can benefit from strategy games like Battleship and Score-Four.  You can get them as board games or as apps. 
I have not emphasized math drills and computation practice.  Computation is just one (important) part of math.  However, if you or your child sense that skills are not where they should be, then do practice.  All students at this point should know the basic facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—quickly and correctly.  If multiplication is a problem, see my earlier posting with good links for practice.

Finally, your children’s IXL accounts will still be open for the summer, so encourage them to visit the site periodically.  It might be a good option to keep in mind if you are stuck in an airport that has wi-fi.

I have enjoyed working with your sons and daughters this year.  

Have a great summer!

Mr. Hughes

Some sites for parents to check out… This gives parents a pdf file of a booklet put out by the US Department of Education.  It contains a number of activities that are appropriate for students of all ages.  At the end of it are some well-known books with math themes and ideas.  You may want to add those to your shopping lists or look for them in a public library. There are a number of games and activities put up by the BBC.  They are organized by levels based on the UK system.  Middle schoolers would be in KS3.  This is a great site for families to work on together. This is a commercial site that will allow you to print off five free logic puzzles that use computation.  You will need to register (free).

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Math in Hollywood

Image result for the dot and the line movie
Students followed a special schedule today, our final full day of school.  It allowed teachers to meet with their classes one last time.  In all of my classes, I started off by showing a math movie (there aren’t too many around).  It is the Academy Award-winning short animation, The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics.  Although short, it tells the story of the fickle dot and the line who is in love with her.  Many students were able to make some character judgements about the dot and the line, as well as appreciate the humor of the storyteller’s vocabulary.

After the film, I showed a math strategy game that involves dots and lines.

If any parents want to watch (or if any middle schoolers want to see it again), the link is at:

If you want to watch another classic math movie, take a look at Donald in Mathmagic Land.  It is one of my favorites.

A more recent, math-themed movie that I am looking forward to seeing this summer is Hidden Figures.  It tells the story of three African-American women mathematicians in the early 1960s.  The film recounts their role in the early years of the NASA space program.   It also deals with the prejudice of the era in the United States.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Grade 7: Exploring ratios

Here are some photos from recent lessons of the seventh graders looking for ratios.


Monday, May 29, 2017


A number of sixth and seventh graders have still not turned in their textbooks.  If you are one of them, be sure that you check your book in at the library and then bring it to my classroom.  Do this as soon as possible.  Remember, if you have books outstanding you will not get your yearbook or report card--or you may have to pay for replacing it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grade 6: Integers test study guide

For the next test you need to be able to:

  • Label a number line
  • Find answers for problems using all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  • Demonstrate how operations work using cubes or number lines
  • Find the range between two numbers
  • Be able to solve a complex problem using the order of operations (PEMDAS). 

What can you do to prepare?  Take a look at…

Your notebook (and the number lines we worked with)
This should be your best source of information. This is why taking careful notes is so important.

You may have done some of these as homework or on your own.
Grade 6:

  • N1 and N3 (uses counters—similar to using cubes)
  • N2, N4-11 (practice with the different operations)
  • M1-6 (reviews what integers are)
  • O10 and O11 (PEMDAS practice)

Grade 5:

  • A9-11 (reviews what an integer is)
  • O4 (PEMDAS practice) 

Your textbook
Pp. 236-258


Monday, May 22, 2017

Grade 7: Investigating body ratios

Last week, the seventh graders learned that the human body has a number of places where the relationship between the measurements of one body part to another uses a constant ratio.  Sometimes, the ratio may actually be an example of what is often called the Golden Ratio.  We watched a short video clip about the Golden Ratio.  If any parents would like to see it or if any seventh grader wants to watch it again, go to:   

Today was the beginning of an investigation of ratios using parts of the human body.  Students are able to choose what kind of investigation that they would like to follow.  Students in the past have had some interesting and creative projects involving people of all ages, furniture, dolls, and other toys.  I am looking forward to seeing what this year’s seventh graders decide to find out about.

Class time was given today to create a question and plan for the investigation.  Students who did not finish need to do that for homework.  Our next class (Wednesday) will be devoted to finding the data and organizing it.  Thursday’s class will be given to writing up the findings of the project.  If students make good use of their time, there should be very little that needs to be done as homework.