fun math

Studying Math + Notes: My method

So, I was kicking some math’s ass the other day. And I looked at my notes and realized that I had developed a pretty good colour system with page flags to colour code the things that I didn’t know how to do.

So here goes!!

This is how my notes look like before I highlight them.

I usually make these cheat sheets 2 times. First into a notebook (as you see) a few days after learning things in class, so I can do practice questions with some help. Second, I copy/make a new one into a binder, a few weeks later. Where all my cheat sheets will be when I’ll need them (e.g.: when I can’t remember something).

I also make some practice exercises to make sure the contents stick to my head (some = like a lot)

This is how it looks after I highlight them, 3 or 4 days after I’m done with the exercises and then more exercises yay.

There’s no other way. You can’t figure out everything by knowing every single formula in the book. You gotta practice.


  • Orange – Headings
  • Green – in orange
  • Yellow – in green
  • Blue – exceptions
  • Weird yellow colour – don’t forget that this obvious thing happens

Regarding what is happening in my pages of exercises

Since my notebook is green, I use colours to match it.

I write the page in orange (and, as I have several exercise books, I write the book’s name/editor next to the first written page number from that book. Then again, when I change exercise books)

Below, I write the number of the exercise in dark green, to match the notebook.


Here is a full page of exercises.

In what concerns the page flag colour coding, this is how I work it:

  • Pink – I have zero idea how to work this through (I have tried and failed miserably – couldn’t even get to an answer)
  • Orange – Failed exercise (done with confidence and wrong answer at the end)
  • Green – I don’t know why this is wrong, the answer is pretty close, I didn’t miss any calculations/calculus/calculous (which one is it? Help please), so maybe the book solution has a typo (this is common stuff here in Portugal with high school math textbooks/exercise books)
  • Yellow - I don’t understand the contents of the exercise.

When I’m done with the exercises, I go back and see what the flags have in common.

E.g.: All of my green flags after exercise seven where about lateral limits. I knew I had to calculate the lateral limits, but I don’t really understand the process.

Once I know what I don’t understand, I’ll send an e-mail to my teacher. Either to ask for help if it’s simple and short, or to request to be at her office hours that week or when she has the time.



So hey I’m done here. Hope this helps someone. 

Also I LOVE MATHS so if you need any help, just send me a message or to my ask box or to my email. Whatever floats you boat. 

Stay awesome,



Kids, sit down and settle in, cuz Professor Olivia’s about to give a math lesson.
One of my favorite mathematical gems is this little treasure right here, a special ratio identified by the Greek letter phi. This ratio has also been referred to as the golden ratio and the divine ratio.
A line segment is divided into segments A and B. The entire segment is therefore equal to A+B. There’s something special about the lengths of A and B: A is to B as A+B is to A.
This very special ratio is known to be very aesthetically pleasing. It has been used in the architecture of buildings such as the Lincoln Memorial and Notre Dame. Common company logos, like the oh-so familiar Apple logo, follow the golden ratio, as does nature in the making of snail shells and the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower (But I won’t get into fractals right now). It’s been said a person is more beautiful if their facial features follow the golden ratio. The C-major chord is so pleasing to the ear because it follows that gosh darn phi golden ratio.
Whether you like it or not, kiddies, math is everywhere and applies to everything. The best we can do is use it to our advantage.

So what’s the issue?

According to data gathered during 2008 by UNDESA; Harvard researchers, Barro and Lee; UNESCO; World Bank; and the International Monetary Fund, there are 42 countries that fall into the category of having “very high human development”.  In that list, there is a ranking of highly developed nations according to something called the HDI, or Human Development Index.  The HDI is based on how a country takes their wealth and turns it into education and health opportunities.  In that list, the United States is ranked 4th, behind only New Zealand, Australia and Norway (1).

In another study that took place in 2009, the OECD, tested student populations and then ranked countries in the areas of math, science, and reading.  In the area of math, the United States was ranked 27th out of 33 countries.  The United States only beat 6 other countries, and 3 of them did not even make the list for countries with “very high human development”.

You may be forming opinions in your mind related to the previous 2 paragraphs; however, please realize there are a lot of things to consider when looking at results of statistical studies such as these.  For example, we must ask if all of the countries considered test the same segments of their student population; i.e. mainstream ed students, special education students, mentally disabled students, etc?   Also, is the testing done in a scenario that creates buy-in for the students?  In other words, are the results a true reflection of knowledge, or did some of the students blow off the test?  Is the HDI reflecting our post-secondary education, and the test is merely testing our our K-12 education?  The list could go on and on.  Still, if the HDI ranks the U.S. as the 4th best country in the world for providing health and education opportunities, it raises the question, “Why are students in the United States falling behind other students around the world in the area of math?”.

Once again, one could raise several arguments about the previous question.  For example, it could argued that just because individuals are provided with opportunities for education does not mean they take advantage of them.  Still, something seems to be very wrong.

The fundamental issue is that most people know something is wrong, but without thinking it through they simply start to throw darts at things that could be the cause.  As of late, the U.S. education system and teachers have been under fire.  I can’t tell you how many people I talk to on a regular basis that truly believe that kids are not learning because the majority of teachers are bad.  Shortly after people tell me this, they somehow come back to reality and remember that I’m a teacher.  Then after I stare blankly at them for a second, I always get the clarification statement, “Oh well, you must be one of the few, good teachers.”

Seriously?!  You really think that most of the teachers in the country are legitimately bad at teaching students?  I can personally attest to the fact that I have taught with a wide array of really bad to amazing educators, and the really bad ones are the ones that are few and far between.  A whole separate issue lies more with how much teachers are valued in the United States.  Take a look at any of the high achieving countries around the world, and you will see that a teaching position is a place of honor that is highly regarded and well paid.  That’s a whole other blog post though, but the point is that, in my humble opinion, the teachers are NOT the main issue.

So what IS the problem?  I will address that in next week’s blog: There’s just not enough time in the day.


1) Human Development Index Retrieved October 9, 2011.

2) Educational Score Performance Rankings 
SOURCE:OECD in Figures 2009 Retrieved October 9, 2011.

I have estimated how many students are enrolled at Hogwarts. 

The books say there are 5 boys in Harry’s year in Gryffindor at Hogwarts so I’m assuming there are 5 girls too which means there’s a total of 10 students in each year in each house. There are 7 years so there are 70 students in each house. 70 times 4 is 280 so there are 280 students total at Hogwarts. 


Hexaflexagons…Mind. Blown.

What the signs remind me of :)
  • Aries:Protecting a fandom, popularity, pushing people out of the way in a crowded store to get the last Pocky
  • Taurus:Tall and friendly, awkward muffins, underrated fandoms.
  • Gemini:Being secretly evil, jokes about dead babies, pretending to hate people when in reality you love all of them
  • Cancer:Giant libraries, really soft blankets, my mom
  • Leo:Middle-school crush, Bad puns, so fab
  • Virgo:Doing math for fun, being or going to be very important, piano covers of video game music
  • Libra:Best hugs, annoying people in public and having a great time doing it (While also bringing you into it), Animal Crossing
  • Scorpio:Leather jackets, reading comics in class, infectious laughter
  • Sagittarius:Long car rides with your favorite music blaring through your headphones, obscure references, Nintendo 64
  • Capricorn:Taping drawings all over everything, popular fandoms, Ninja Sex Party instrumentals, Film Cow shorts
  • Aquarius:My best friends, probably secretly evil, scarves
  • Pieces:Crying over fan fiction, very good at drawing, snow days with lots of hot chocolate