Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Heuristics Explained by Marshall Cavendish Education

So all of you know about my unhappiness with Lena and her junk food (if you are clueless don't freak, click here to find out)  BUT I am not about to let Lena get away with things and let her own ways again, not when she and her gang had tormented me for so many years!

What did I do?  I went for Marshall Cavendish Education Maths workshop - Heuristics Explained for Intermediate & Advanced Learners last weekend.  Even though the workshop was more suitable for parents of P1 to P4 students I decided to go for it without 2nd thoughts because this Mama's Maths seriously cannot make it.  Its time I face my "nemesis" and hopefully I can slay this dragon.

Now, don't be intimidated with the term Heuristics, I will do a simple explanation later nor start wondering if your child is Intermediate or Advanced learners.  This workshop is meant for parents to better understand the Maths concepts thus enabling them to coach their child in solving Maths problem sums effectively.  The workshop aims to cover the following;

  • The relevance and use of the four categories of heuristics in solving problems
  • Which heuristics can be used specifically for which types of problems
  • Common mistakes made by students in using heuristics to solve Maths problems.
Let's go back to where it began
A few years ago, Maths started to become "a problem" to most parents because some high level geniuses in our Nation's Mathematics Department decided to review and make some improvement to our Maths curriculum that threw the parents off their tracks and caused them to scamper around trying to make sense of this new Maths concept. Well, before you fault those geniuses, this is NOT because they had nothing better to do and decided to mess up our Maths curriculum but instead, all thanks to their foresight (that's why they are call the geniuses right?) they were able to see that as the world progresses into the digital and technology era, to keep abreast we have to be a step behind if not on par with them. To achieve this we need people who are strong in Mathematics to support and tackle the challenges that will surface during this era.

Here's why
Have you ever wonder why we are totally clueless about our childs' Maths problem sum? Now, leave Lena alone, its not her fault, in fact it has to do with the the way Maths was introduced and taught to us during our days. We were taught to focused on computations and routine procedures, all we have to do is to memorize formulas and solution steps for problems sums because the questions are similar, only numbers and scenario changed, the solutions remains the same.  Add in a little bit of "twists" or tweak the question and suddenly we are lost or become what I like to call myself, a Maths Idiot.  Ok, hold your horses!  All is not lost, read on and you'll be saved.

The Workshop
This is my first time attending Marshall Cavendish Education workshop and frankly I did not know what to expect, in fact I was a little bit scared because Maths is really not my strong subject and my heart still throbs fast whenever I have to face it.

The Heuristics Explained for Intermediate & Advanced Learners was facilitated by Ms Peggy Foo, a well known and experienced educator. Ms Foo was with the Ministry of Education, Singapore for a decade and later she moved on to joined Marshall Cavendish Institute as the Head of Lesson Study Academy/ Lecturer.

I think all the parents that were in the same room as me were feeling a little bit anxious, eager to learn something to take away with them some useful information from this workshop.  Within minutes into the workshop, Ms Peggy Foo ease up the tensed atmosphere and lighten up everyone's mood and she proceeded to share the outline of the workshop, and with that the workshop officially begins.

Soon after she lite a light bulb in our head and made us exclaimed "AHHHH!" in unision by giving us a simple Maths equation; much like the one below, to solve.  Our way of solving this equation is to move number 7 to the right and change the "+" to "-", from there we work our way to find the answer.

Let's pause for a while to ask ourselves, have we ever wonder why did we do that? Why bring a number over from either side we must change "+' to "-" or divide to multiply, and vice versa?  I don't know about you but I never question my Maths teacher, I don't think he explained to us too. I just know that it is the Mathematical Rule and if I follow it then my calculation will lead me to getting the correct answer.  Ok, I shall not reveal the answer to this interesting question, attend Marshall Cavendish Education workshop and find out the answer (Yes, I am seriously doing this to you.)
Let's take a look at "higher -order thinking" in Mathematics.  After hearing this term for so long, I finally have a chance to see what it actually mean.  The "higher-order thinking" or the Singapore Mathematics Framework or the Pentagon Model looks pretty complicated and intimidating but in layman term it merely means besides memorizing facts or formulas in this case, the child is expect to understand the problem sums, infer from them, connect them to other facts and concepts, categorize them, manipulate them, put them together in new ways, and apply them to get the answer.  In simpler term, the child not only have to understand the problem sums but he is expected to find the answer AND explain to others why or how he derived to that answer.   

And it is the explanation part that most parents have problems with and get stumped when our child question us because that information was not taught to us.  We weren't even given a chance to question our teachers and just absorb whatever information or formula taught to us and even if we have query we were probably told to "Just do it because it is so."

So, from this big Pentagon Model, you can see that Heuristics appears under Processes.  I must say that for such a frequently spoken word, it sure takes on a small role in the big picture.  Unfortunately, it is usually the most obscure things that holds the greatest importance or impact.

As Ms Foo explained, the Mathematical Processes comprises of both the Thinking Skills (Know Hows) and Heuristics (Tools), both goes hand in hand.  You can work on a problem when you have the skill but no tools OR you have the required tools but you do not know how to use them.

There are 13 Heuristics where the most frequently used "tools" are the first 6;
1. Draw a diagram/model
2. Use guess-and-check
3. Make a systematic list
4. Look for patterns
5. Work backwards
6. Use before-after concept
7. Make suppositions
8. Act it out
9. Restate the problem in another way
10. Simplify the problem
11. Solve part of the problem
12. Think of a related problem *
13. Use equations *
* found in secondary syllabus

You will learn more about them in detail during the workshop but if you want to get a glimpse of it, check out this Marshall Cavendish Education post How to apply heuristics to solve challenging problems?   You may also want to check out their post The Model Method – A Bridge To Introducing Algebra because it touched briefly on model drawing.

It was definitely an insightful workshop, I have lighted many light-bulbs in those hours, it's like I have learned Maths all over again.  On top of that I learned about the Newman's 5 Steps Model, a method to better guide your child along while reading the problem sums.  Believe me, you will need this method when you are dealing with upper primary Maths.  I wish I know about this way way before, then there won't be any clashes or friction during my Maths revision time with DinoBoy.

After 6 years of primary and 4 years of secondary studying Maths, our children are expected to become Effective Problem Solver, what about me, the self proclaimed Maths Idiot?  Well, my confidence level did went up a little bit but I think I shall not tackle Lena so soon, I probably try to solve lower primary Maths for a start.

I attended this workshop together with Mummy Cynthia, read about her review (an also a giveaway) Problem Solving Maths with Essential Know How and Tools  where she shared a different view of the same as me.

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Marshall Cavendish Education regularly hosts workshops for parents with primary school going child, check out their workshop schedule here.

If you child siting for PSLE this year or next year, check out their parent workshop here and student workshop here.

The next Marshall Cavendish Education Mathematics workshop for Parents Problem-solving with Bar Models will be held on 10 June 2017, sign up for it now because slots are going out fast!

We have ONE slot of 50% discount on the ticket to the above workshop for giveaway, this means that instead of paying SGD85 to attend this useful workshop, you only pay SGD42.50.

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Giveaway Details

Prize : x1 50% discount @ SGD42.50 to Marshall Cavendish Problem-solving with Bar Models (upper primary) workshop on 10 June 2017,
Contest Ends : 05 June 2017 @ 2359hrs
Open : Singapore
How to Enter : by using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and conditions of giveaway are as follow:
- To avoid being disqualified without prior notice for the giveaway, please read carefully the following and fulfill ALL the requirements stated.
- Tickets are non transferable nor exchange for cash.
- Tickets are for specific the workshop and cannot be changed.
- Winners will be picked randomly.
- Winners will be notified via email, please ensure you have provided a valid email.
- Winners will have 24 hours to respond by replying to our notification otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
- Prizes will be given out by sponsor.
- Only one winner per household.
- This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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You May Also Like
A few of my mummy blogger friends have also attended Marshall Cavendish Education workshops, read about their review on different subjects for different primary level.

Mummy Ed - Stretching Your Child’s Mathematical Abilities
Mummy Serene - P3 & P4 Maths Coaching Workshop
Mummy Christy - PSLE Student English Workshop
Mummy Christy - PSLE English Workshop for Parents – How to Tackle The English Paper

Disclaimer : We were invited by Marshall Cavendish Education to attend the Heuristics Explained for Intermediate & Advanced Learners for te purpose of this post, no other compensation were received. The opinions in this post are 100% ours. All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not take it for personal use without permission.


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