The Importance of Resourcing

Math is not a static subject. Whilst the rules stay more or less the same dependent on the application, I feel that there are always at least 6 different ways of explaining a single concept – thus, at least one should appeal to every student.

With that being said, I always try to challenge my more gifted students as they tend to bore easily due to their great mental capacity. I’ll give them some basic guidelines on a topic they have not yet covered and have them try to realise the procedure in an investigation-style. I do this because a student that will sit, read for themselves and try to conceptualise before the work is explained to them; will have a much higher chance of retaining and understanding all aspects of the work. Yes, we are here for support and to correct any areas of confusion, but the student who takes the time to read through and try to understand a concept feels more positive toward it and has a better retention (over a period of months and years) of the subject matter. This is where resourcing comes in.

At the beginning of the year, and especially with my Matrics, I recommend that they try to get their hands on a textbook different to their own, albeit outdated. As tutors, we are aware of the sections which have been phased out of the CAPS syllabus, so we can be selective in the topics to study in any textbook. The reason I do this is to give a different viewpoint of some overlapping concepts. I can speak from experience as to not understanding concepts off the bat, which can be very frustrating and make you feel the S-word (Stupid, for clarification – I don’t enjoy using this word when referring to intelligence) but having the determination to understand the work is the difference.

In the same manner of doing a proper research project, where many different sources are at your disposal – internet sources, textbooks, interviews and first-hand experiences – you should be learning and studying. Even if you feel that you have grasped a concept the first time around, having it repeated in a different way can only benefit you as a student. With Math, Physics and Accounting – the trick to excelling is knowing the theory well and extending this logic in order to do various application questions; hence we recommend so much practice.

I often speak of a toolbox – this is the set of theory and procedures which you have been taught up until examination takes place - and all your tools should be sharpened and ready to use at a moments’ notice. You won’t be expected to write on concepts you have yet to learn or those that are above your skills level e.g. University-level questions for a high school exam, so understanding the work in its entirety is of paramount importance. And, in my opinion, the best way of understanding is through repetition and learning through various sources.

I’ve listed a few with their descriptions which I have found, personally, to be very helpful and most of the features of these resources are free of charge.

  • Khan Academy : Sal Khan has been my saviour many a time when I could not conceptualise some complex ideas. Khan Academy has video lessons which are all under 30 minutes on Mathematics and Physical- and Life-Sciences. The beauty of this resource is that he has all the information at varying levels e.g. if you need to be able to do polynomial division and have forgotten the long division you had done in Grade 5, you can look back on videos explaining all of this. Khan Academy is available on the website – where you do interactive, timed tests on the videos you had watched in series – YouTube, as well as an App that you can have on your computer, cellphone or tablet. In the App, you are able to download the videos quite easily to watch in offline mode. The down-side to using this is the fact that Sal works on the American and Indian school systems, which is not CAPS specific – but the theory and principles all remain the same. Ask your tutor for assistance with using this resource.
  • Siyavula : Senior students should all have access to physical copies of these books as they are distributed as a free resource. There are set textbooks which follow the CAPS curriculum and are downloadable for Math, Math Literacy, Physical- and Life-Sciences for Grades 10, 11 and 12. The website has a more interactive approach with tests after each sub-section – but the content is identical to the textbooks. This book is an excellent resource for extra practice in the respective subjects and works as a good supplement to work which has already been learned.
  • Mind Set Learn There are two options to using this source, one can either watch the Mind Set Learn Channel 319 on DStv or you can peruse the website. There is a selection of videos across all subjects and across all Grades and programming time which should suit most schedules. Finally, a constructive application to watching television 😊. The videos are also available on their website along with notes which are available for download on specific sections – which are very good. More personally, I was taught by one of the script-writers of this show, who was not the presenter of the course on television – and this comforted me as she was one of many of a team of experienced teachers dedicating to getting the best content onto the show.

The last resource which I have not had personal experience with, but is becoming increasingly popular due to accessibility is Paper Video . This is a paid service for where exam papers for Accounting, Math and Math Literacy, Physical-, Life- and Natural-Sciences are made available with QR-codes to scan at each question with a complete write-up videos and explanations of how to answer individual questions. This is, however, a service that requires payment for exclusive access to papers, videos and PDF notes.

Besides the repetition of using different resources, it helps a lot for understanding texts across borders, which is especially helpful for tertiary studies and needing to understand various notations. Also, all the resources at your disposal means nothing if you do not take the time to sit, learn and internalise the work – there is no substitute for working hard to internalise the work be as comfortable with application by yourself as you are with all the resources (tutors, teachers and notes included) at your aid.

To conclude, I would like to wish all of our students a successful and calm exam period. The work you put in personally will reflect on your final results.