# sacha chua living an awesome life

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## Filling in the learning gaps

In our math study group sessions, we often find ourselves reviewing lessons that the kids briefly covered in school but hadn’t absorbed. For example, one of the kids was having a hard time with long division. “This is going to take a long time,” he said. He sounded hesitant, so I offered to help him review long division while W- gave the other kids additional exercises. I shared the mnemonic that helped J- learn long division: Dracula Must Suck Blood, which reminds people to divide, multiply, subtract, and then bring down the next number. We got through double-digit division, remainders, and decimal points, although he still needs to practise until he gets division down pat.

J- has moments like that with her schoolwork, too, so it’s good that we have these study sessions. The kids had taken up algebraic expressions before, but drew blanks when I turned our straightforward price + tax exercise into an exercise along the lines of “Let’s say I want to sell a shirt for \$30 after tax, which is 13%. What should the initial price be?” So we did a quick review of algebra, and we’ll do more next week.

The kids’ classroom lessons are currently focused on a simulation of real life. They have jobs, and must balance their income and their expenses. Some are entrepreneurs, and some work at companies. They’re learning about business, advertising, accounting, and communication. They’ve even filed income tax returns. The teachers (also known as the Sometimes Benevolent Force in-game) occasionally shake things up. I think it’s an interesting idea.

This integrated, real-life-focused learning does leave little time to review lessons or build a sense of mastery in basic skills, and J- sometimes has a hard time talking about the specific lessons she’s learning from the exercise. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been stepping up our involvement, tutoring J- and organizing these study groups. The teachers are doing their best, and I think the program might be more useful than a plain-vanilla-teach-to-the-textbook approach. Filling in the gaps at home is much more effective than waxing nostalgic or wringing our hands in worry.

It helps to understand that it’s normal for some things to be missed. No school is perfect, no teacher is perfect, and no student is perfect. It takes repeated exposure and practice to learn something – as I learn and re-learn myself, stretching with these projects and hobbies. =)

Short URL: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22174

## On This Day...

• Want to help me with what I'm learning?

I'm Sacha Chua, and I'm on a 5-year experiment in semi-retirement. I love coding, writing, drawing, and sharing what I'm learning along the way.

• Nrkkalyan Nice – May 18, 1:31 PM
• Dave Marquardt Hey, remember how I couldn't see your drawing? It was a Feedly thing, and I can see the drawing just fine on your web site. – May 18, 11:49 AM
• Gath Gealaich What exactly means "W-"? It sounds like a manufacturer designation. Or do other parts of this planet have naming and typographic conventions I'm not familiar... – May 18, 11:49 AM
• Raymond Zeitler Your blog is refreshingly free of advertisements. So I receive it as a pure form of self-expression and an altruistic willingness to help others --... – May 18, 11:14 AM
• sachac Hilarity! =) Glad it helped. You can also find keybindings with C-h f <function-name> Undo-tree is pretty darn cool. =) – May 18, 11:08 AM
• Raymond Zeitler Excellent! This 13-year user didn't know about C-h w . I would always invoke M-x and then stare at the mini buffer for the brief... – May 18, 10:53 AM
• FreakSQuirreL Really nice! I got here after a friend shared a link to your blog :) I will keep spreading your work to help those who... – May 18, 9:48 AM
• vec nice sheet though, maybe that'll help me to get into emacs – May 18, 9:00 AM
• vec > “Emacs vs. Vi” holy war (one of the classic battles in computer science) no, not really! computer science deals in way more complex problems. – May 18, 8:59 AM
• Adam Awan Thanks Sascha, great sketch. I found it hard to move away from Vim until I found Evil (Extensible Vi Layer) for Emacs http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/Evil This replaces... – May 18, 8:57 AM
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