The simplicity of a silent demonstration

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A silent demonstration to find the length of the line

I am often asked about whether online tuition is as effective as face to face tuition. Personally, I believe that the tuition I offer is equal to my face to face offerings and, in many instances, far superior. Last week, I was reminded about this when one of my younger tutees was covering perimeter of compound shapes. 

From my previous experiences, children either find this topic fairly straightforward – they just naturally see the connections –  or really stumble as they struggle to see how the different lines are related to each other. For these children, lots of exposure and practise of looking at different shapes is vital. 

Using Bitpaper (an online whiteboard), I was able to quickly draw a compound shape and highlight all the horizontal lines. From here, I asked my student to watch, while I, in silence, moved the lines towards each other to demonstrate how to find the missing side. 

Immediately, my student was so excited – “I get it! I really get it!” and she did! I gave her several other compound shapes with missing sides and, for each shape, she was able to quickly identify which lines she needed to use to help her. 

As we were going through the process, another thought came into my mind. I spend a lot of time focussing on the concept of subtraction, not only as ‘taking away’ but also the difference between two numbers. This concept of difference enabled my student to make the link between the missing sides and subtraction and chose the correct calculation for every shape.

This short but extremely effective session reinforced how powerful online tuition can be when carefully selecting the tools to demonstrate. 

Catherine Rooke

A specialist international maths tutor helping children with maths anxiety, maths difficulties and dyscalculia have positive maths experiences.