By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Author Greg Tang, who has created a series of books to interest children in math, visited Hastings Elementary School Nov. 25.
Tang is the author of several books including, “Math Fables,” “Math for All Seasons,” “Mathterpieces” – a New York Times best seller – “The Grapes of Math” and “Math Potatoes.” These books are filled with riddles, poems and pictures to challenge the reader, while making math fun.
“I am very grateful to our Hastings Parent Group for funding Greg Tang’s visit and to our staff for supporting the project,” said math tutor
Joan Truesdell. “I think this is the first time we’ve had a guest author from the world of math . I’m always on the lookout for better ways to reach our students. We were already sharing Greg Tang’s books with our students, so why not bring him here?”
His presentation, while tailored for each grade level, was well received. His focus for the third grade program was to help the kids think strategically about all numbers, not just small numbers. He did this by explaining to the students how to start breaking the numbers apart. In several subtraction examples, he gave them strategies to make the computation easier.
“When you get good at numbers you get good at math. I teach the students to think in groups of two when multiplying by four, as it’s easier to manage,” Tang said. “You also have to be able to do partial products in your head.”
Each time a problem was presented on the overhead, the room was abuzz with excitement. The students were eager to answer first, proud of their newly acquired understanding.
“There is such an easier way for kids to do math,” Tang insisted. “I get to take a subject that people think is so difficult and make it easier which is very satisfying for me. When the kids can do the calculations the numbers can be really fun. The numbers don’t have to be tied to life. Later, when it’s tied to life it is more meaningful.”
Tang has also created a website, GregTangMath.com, where users can practice their math skills through online games such as Kakooma and Expresso.
“I’m creating tons of games and online materials and I’m working on teaching videos for educators and parents on word problems,” Tang said.
He also offers one- and two-day workshops in cities across the country and hosts a Math Plus Conference every summer in Boston.