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One of my friends has a three year old daughter.  The girl goes to daycare.  My friend recently asked me if it would be beneficial for her to go to preschool as well as her daycare.  In her mind, I'm the authority on this kind of stuff, since I have four children, and they all went through some kind of childcare before they went to school.  Here is what my children did:

My oldest son: 

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For a long time I really didn't understand how people learn.    Since I am a teacher I see people learning all the time.  How is it that some students understand what I am talking about when teaching them math, while others can't, or are only aware of it on the surface, or just pretend to understand at all.  After a while, I wasn't satisfied with no explanation, so I decided to go back to school, and tackle this question.  Every course I took, every article I read, every discussion I had during the course of my Masters, brought me closer to a full picture of how people learn.  Here is the my model of learning:

As children are exposed to many environmental stimuli they make millions of connections in their brain.  The more they are exposed to certain situations, the signal travels through those neurons and they get stronger, while the ones that are not used as much get weaker and after a while those weak connections are cut or "pruned". 

An example of this would be the different sounds an English versus Spanish native speaker recognizes

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How does this work?

(If you can't see the above video, try this link: http://youtu.be/HeXV3Ic8phw)

On March 14 (Pi Day) the Hexa-Trex Puzzle App is coming out. Please take a look and download it. Let me know what you think!

Over the past several months my husband and I have been working on this project, to create the app. Changing the puzzle into an app was a no-brainer. The Hexa-Trex puzzle, if you haven't tried it yet, is all about choosing the right pathway through tiles to get a correct equation (try some here: http://www.nucleuslearning.com/products/hexatrex/puzzles). And what better way to figure out the pathway than to swipe your finger over tiles on your iPad. The moment I got myself an iPad, I imagined my Hexa-Trex puzzles in app format. I had the design clear in my head... but now I just had to transform my image from my mind into reality.

Although my husband loves to program, with full time jobs and four small boys at home, we decided that the best way to approach this creative process was to hire a team of programmers to code the app. We decided on all parts of the design, but the coding was done by the programmers from Romania. It was a very interesting process. All the communication between us and the programmers was through email. And with the time difference (we live in Calgary, so it's about 8h time difference), only one email per day was possible. But whatever we asked for, all the ideas we had, were pretty much reflected in the programming. The programmers did exactly what we wanted in a reasonable amount of time, given our slow responses, and the communication difficulties. Although the process took longer than expected, I am very happy with the final product.


So on Thursday, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, download the Hexa-Trex Puzzle app and try out the puzzles. Then write me a little note, letting me know what you think.

Next week Thursday, Pi Day (3-14), I am releasing the Hexa-Trex Puzzle app for iPhone and iPad. It's free to download with the first 30 puzzles, so make sure you download it, share it with your friends, promote it.

Just with a swipe of your finger you can create equations and test them out. If you get stuck, you can get a hint. If you don't want to use your brain to do arithmetic, you can use the calculator option that comes with the puzzle application.

If you have never tried Hexa-Trex puzzles up to now or if you can't wait for next week, try the ones here on this website: Just click on the Hexa Trex Puzzle of the Day (top left corner). Enjoy and spread the joy!

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I received an email recently about this website hosted by a retired math teacher. Julia has decided to share her teaching wealth with the world by posting "over 4,000 PDF files that total over 12,000 printable pages. 100% free as always". I just checked out the website: it is very user friendly, with various ways of choosing your worksheet (by category, by age, by grade, etc.) Also the worksheets look very well put together, with some basic, some intermediate and some challenging questions. And of course... the worksheets are FREE. Have a look, use what you can, but make sure you give credit to this wonderful website: http://www.mathworksheetsland.com whenever you can.

A while back I wrote an entry on the purpose of homework. I thought I was pretty complete with that blog entry, and there were many relevant comments in that thread, however now I wish to revisit this topic briefly.

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I always hated teaching review periods. The novelty of the topic and the surprise of the students wore off... the review period is just remembering something learned. I had no more input as a teacher, or so I thought. It was now all up to the student. I always treated this as free periods for me: give the students problems / questions, get them to answer them indpendently, and once in a while I would be interrupted by a question from the students if they didn't know how to answer it.

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