Sunday, 3 October 2010

Pointers in Teaching, Learning Speed

At elementary level in maths education, speed is always a challenging topic for learners.

It caught my attention and I started wondering why?

Many mistakes can be made when dealing with these types of questions.

After studying the various mistakes made by learners, I came to a few conclusion that I like to share here.

How to avoid confusion in doing Speed questions in maths:-

1)  Speed involves two parameters, namely, distance and time.
This is the key issue. Dealing with one parameter is already a challenge, and dealng with two is always a "headache".
The concept, has thus to be clearly addressed upon, before the ratio of distance and time leading to speed can be fully understood.
What is distance?
What is time?
These 2 items are variable in nature. They change in value.
They causes confusion when lumped together!

Examples of daily activities will help in this case.

Quote cases like running in a race, where the champion came back in the shortest time covering the same distance as all others.

Get the concept of distance versus time into them.
Also FAST and SLOW relation to speed.

2)  Error in units:-
Break up the tasks of calculating km, m or cm and sec, hours, minutes separately.
In other words,deal with one item at a time.
Use basic unit if possible to reduce chances of making costly errors.

The learners have to handle the logical part of the question, and also the mechanical part of unit manipulation in speed problems.
Tell them to find one thing at a time, and the need for doing that. Be patience is the message.

3)  Draw out a pictorial image of the question.
This method will help some kids to visualise the real issue.

By having drawn the length for distance to be covered (or covered), they will have a better idea of what distance is about in the maths question. They will not have to "keep" this disatnce in their mind together with the problematic "time" condition.

Use the seeing method helps them clear any doubts and can also reduce mistakes in interpreting the question.

There will definitely be more pointers to be added to my three above.
But with these 3 basic issues settled, most of the queries about speed and its maths problems should be clearer.

If you have any other pointers, you may share in the comment space.
Cheers  :-)

Maths is interesting, I suppose you cannot agree more.