Dear Maths @ Sharp Friend,
Wow. Who would have thought I would be typing this newsletter from my dining room, hoping that the mini me naps long enough for me to finish it… The world has gone absolutely crazy over the last couple of months. If you are feeling unsettled, you are certainly not alone. I am lucky enough to be able to continue working from home in my pjs, drinking far too much coffee and enjoying the antics of my mini me. But, there are some days I really want to just go back to the office or visit a school and see some other humans and talk about maths and students and enjoy our love of maths together.
With the change in season comes another big change:
Over the last couple of months, we have moved the Sharp brand across to SMD technologies. SMD Technologies is a company that has many awesome products and they are innovating all the time. They hold the award for Best Education partner with HP laptops, they bring in the Volkano brand, and they are the sole distributor for Connex laptops and tablets. SMD Technologies also supplies baby bags, laptop bags, hand sanitizers, projectors, computer peripherals and even sweets! This made it an awesome place to nurture the Sharp calculator brand.
However, with the event of Covid-19 and the crazy madness that has erupted across the globe, a lot of plans have been put on hold.
But, here is the good news: www.mathsatsharp.co.za is still up and running, and with a little bit of extra time on my hands, new content will be up on the site soon. Teachers, remember that you can download the simulator for both the EL-W535SAB and the EL-W506T (the all new advanced, equation solving scientific calculator) for free off the website. Now might be the perfect time to try them out, especially if you are doing classes online and need to demonstrate aspects on the calculator. 😉 (*Parents – you and your children can also play on the drill mode on the simulator so not all screen time is bad time 😉). If you would like a demo or to chat about the calculator, I am usually available in the evenings for an hour or two (after the mini me is in bed and peace reigns in the household), so please do let me know if this is something you might be interested in. (On a side note – Zoom is a great place to meet and since you can pick a virtual background no-one can see your dishes in the kitchen behind you… Or is that just me 😉 )
I stumbled across this awesome Excel spreadsheet from Microsoft today,
it has various tabs which allows you to practice different aspects of arithmetic (like the drill mode but with more options). Again, maybe a little bit of screen time isn’t a bad thing. However, if you feel that they need a break from the screen, Microsoft also has some fabulous colouring in books to download, as well as paint by numbers and wordsearches that you can print out. I have already downloaded the mandalas colouring in book, because you can always make time for colouring in 😉 (there is some research that says that colouring in is good for maths and anxiety; And here is some mathematical colouring because you can never have too much).
Another great activity that will also help with maths is some baking. This helps with measurement skills. You can also ask your children to double or halve the recipe for fraction practice. Woolworths has a great list of “kid-friendly” recipes that you can try. I would love to see how these turn out (and eat with my eyes 😉) so please do send some pictures. The pull apart pizza roll is something I think I might give a try this weekend.
While in lock down we have also been given the opportunity to take part in an online excel course.
I have just completed the second level and have learnt so many valuable skills from the course. The videos range anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes (although they average around 25 minutes). You will also have a certificate at the end of the course to show for your efforts, and much less frustration with excel as well 😉 They are running a free Excel Webinar tomorrow morning if you would like to join in, or alternatively, visit their website for more information!
With coffee becoming an absolute necessity (our rate of coffee consumption at the moment is a jar a week and we’ve just run out) this research by scientists is critical! It uses maths to make the best possible espresso – and surprisingly uses fewer beans (which is good news for us 😉)
Tuesday the 5th of May is Teacher appreciation day.
I think that this year you will be the most appreciated you have ever been. From all of us at SMD and Sharp, we want to say thank you for the many extra hours you have put in to try and catch students up online, to alleviate fears and for taking care of your family as well as the children at school. We have never been more grateful for the immense work and time that you spend with our children in South Africa, and we really cannot say thank you enough. I know things are tough right now, but you are shining so brightly for all those children who can’t see the light at home. Hang on to your sanity and know that South Africa’s moms and dads really, REALLY appreciate you.
If you would like to help make a difference but you are not sure where to start, SMD Technologies, together with Danny K, have teamed up to provide masks to healthcare workers. You can be a part of this effort by making a donation to the Shout4Masks campaign.
I really look forward to seeing you all when things have settled down. (That is, if I can squeeze myself out of the house after all the yummy baking and coffee 😉).
Please do take care, be careful and stay safe,
Big virtual hugs
Tal (and the Sharp team and the mini me)
Ps – This seems particularly appropriate for the times 😉
Pss- while this is all very scary right now, just think about the way we are using maths in real life to try to flatten the curve. I’m looking forward to the time when we can sit in our classes and discuss exponential graphs with students and a very important real-life example that they’ve experienced themselves.