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Topic: Teaching Percent
Replies: 3   Last Post: Aug 14, 1996 10:36 PM

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Rex Boggs

Posts: 80
Registered: 12/6/04
Teaching Percent
Posted: Aug 9, 1996 5:51 PM
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Teaching in a Queensland high school, with year levels from 8 to 12, has
some interesting moments. A teacher may finish a lesson on differential
equations with the year 12s, and immediately start a lesson on percent
with the year 8s or year 9s. Even more interesting, I find teaching
percent to the year 8s and year 9s to be a much more difficult task.

I find that all students initially have difficulty with distinguishing
the different 'types' of percent problems, eg 'find 15% of 40', '15 is
what percent of 40' and '40 is 15% of what amount'. Some students get
a feel for these questions quite quickly, others after a fair bit of
practice. Still others manage reasonable success by learning little
tricks and algorithms, but if the 'type' is disguised somewhat in a word
problem, a lack of understanding becomes evident.

And some students never seem to catch on. I remember once teaching a
whole semester of 'Maths of Money' in our old Maths in Society course in
year 11, and having a few students still getting the easy percent
questions at the start of the test incorrect.

In year 8, we have adopted a mental maths approach to the 'find 15% of
40' type of questions, very successfully, thanks to 'Mental Maths for
Junior High' from Creative Publications. We only teach this one type
of question in year 8.

In year 9 (starting on Monday, in fact), we add the other two types.
This is where the problem begins. Could those of you who have found
successful strategies for teaching understanding on this topic please
share them with the rest of us?

I manage a website that contains resources for teaching mathematics at
the secondary level. I would like to monitor any ensuing discussion and
summarise the results in a brief paper that will be stored on the
website. If you wish to participate but don't wish your comments to be
included in such a document, could you please email me and let me know.



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