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Helping students do well in CBSE Maths

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Why should there be an article about CBSE Maths?  And not helping students with Maths?  Or helping students with CBSE?  In this blog, I will explore precisely that.  But first, we do need to understand each separately.

How students learn Maths

At a very simple level, learning Maths (specially at the earlier levels) translates to understanding patterns.  Some people are naturally tuned to patterns, others have to be trained.  A sports analogy works well here.  Almost anyone with proper training can run 100 metres in 13-14 minutes; but to be Usain Bolt you have to be gifted, and then train.

Training in Maths involves practice – lots of it.  Kumon (www.kumon.com) has figured this out.  Most children start Kumon early, and then they practice and practice.  The practice is carefully structured, so each problem leads from the previous, and no question is very hard if you can solve the previous one.  Doing this rigorously can train your brain.  Its also like having very bitter medicine; a child has to be continually coaxed to stay on the program because it is boring – but it works.  A child spending a few years will never be scared of the subject.

More recently this has been taken to the next level using technology.  Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) is a not-for-profit organization that uses videos, practice and gamification to get children to learn maths.  The program is much more engaging; the medicine is palatable.  A student can progress at their own pace, and all learning assets are available.  And they have some of the best minds working to continually improve their solution.

To repeat – Maths is about practice.  Just understanding is not enough.  Understanding sets up neural pathways in your brain, but only through practice do these pathways stabilize.

The other part about Maths is that it builds on existing knowledge.  So if foundational ideas are weak, it is very difficult to understand new ideas, let alone practice them.  It also appears that in the case of Maths, more than other subjects, the initial pathways are harder to build as a child gets older.

So as a parent, if you want your child to be comfortable in Maths, make sure they practice a lot.  Use free worksheets, Khan Academy, Kumon, or some other system.  But they must practice to learn Maths.

How CBSE Works

The CBSE system has evolved substantially over the past 7-8 years.  The board introduced CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) in 2009.  CCE attempts to address many problems; from student stress, to unfair marking, to co-curricular activities, and for overall development.  All information about CCE is available at www.cbseacademic.in.

From an academic perspective projects, and regular internal assessment were now part of the CBSE school mandate.  While the theory was sound, the advent of CCE put a lot of additional stress on teachers and schools, leading to some short cuts, specially in schools with poor student teacher ratios.  So it is possible that not all practices are being followed correctly.

CCE also resulted in making the Class 10 board exam optional.  This is replaced by Summative Assessment twice a year (SA1 and SA2) and two Formative Assessments in each term.  CBSE has also set clear guidelines on which chapters to cover in each and their relative importance, along with number of sessions recommended for each topic area.  The most recent update should be available in http://cbse.nic.in/currisyllabus.htm.  This has substantially reduced variability, while becoming transparent to parents and students who are keen to understand.

Putting it together – How to do better in CBSE Maths

Start Early.

For most of the country, there is a substantial summer vacation within a few weeks of starting the new school year.  Go through the NCERT book.  It is well written, with good sequencing.  Focus on the important chapters, read the text and worked out questions, and practice a few of the simpler questions.  This will start create some pathways in your brain.

Revise immediately after class.

If you have followed the first step, explanations by the teacher in class will help consolidate learning.  Immediately after class, spend a few minutes quickly going over the problems that were covered.  This will help consolidate your understanding.

Practice

Set a target to attempt 10 maths questions at least 4 days every week.  This needs to become a habit.  And attempting the question implies that you write it down with all steps.  The CBSE system has very clear marking guidelines and will deduct marks if steps are not complete.

Strategize

As you get closer to your exam, look at the weightage of chapters and the paper structure – there are many examples on the web.  Decide what you will focus on and what you will leave.  Spend more time on solving problems instead of memorizing formulae till just before the exam.

Also, do review my earlier blog on 7 ways to do better in tests.

About Scorace

Scorace is an intelligent learning system that helps students ‘score better in their next test’.  It is based on the belief that students do not have time to waste; and need to know exactly what to do and when, to get better marks.  To know more do visit our site at www.scorace.com

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