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Maths teachers, what do you call this in English ?

(32 Posts)
fastweb Thu 22-Sep-11 21:17:36

My son has just started year 6  (year 7 in the UK).

I want to help him with the topic they have started the year with, but I have no idea what it is called in English and I'm struggling to find anything on the usual sites I go to.

As a rough translation it seems to be called "groups" of the mathmatical kind.

He has to produce equations (?) like these below (if it doesn't format properly please read the brackets as the curly kind)

A={a|a is a letter from the word "sink"} 


And then an Eulero-Venn diagram to show A, which I can't do here.

Theroy was by Georg Cantor

Started the above yesterday, today have added improper and proper sub groups, and the use of a sysmbol that looks like a squashed C,( so the arms are longer but it is more squat), and the same symbol crossed out to show a group is not a sub group of another group and the same squashed C with a dash underneath for the improper subgroup that is the orginal group, and a crossed through O to show the improper "empty" group.

He is having a hard time processing all the info, although we more less have the concepts sorted he is a bit fuzzy in places and I'd like to get him some less "dense" (and more example rich) explanations and practice....but it is a bit hard to do when when you don't know what you are looking for title wise (:

Hope I haven't mangled the explanation too much, quite hard to decribe in words.

Really grateful for an info about what the above is called.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Sep-11 21:51:33

Set theory.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Sep-11 21:57:17

I'm a bit surprised at a Y7 doing this - it's Further Maths A-level stuff!

stealthsquiggle Thu 22-Sep-11 22:02:50

blimey - where are you OP?!

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 05:16:28

I'm in Italy

Thus may sound odd, but I am so relived you are saying it is further maths.

We have had to do 60 problems, many requiring three-nine equations to be created for each question, over the last two nights.

He ismknakcered and I am seriously regretting sending him back to school.

But it this is a "blip" topic, amd soon we will be back to more normal stuff for an only just 11yo, then we should be ok.

I'm guessing that being advanced maths in the UK finding explanation/practice aimed at his age group is going to be something of a long shot ?

There are three more chapters on this topic in the book, getting progessivly more difficult and complex, am feeling a little cold sweat breaking out.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 06:05:47

Then again maybe I can find something, I'll go check on American teacher forums, but I have a suspition that When Italy brought in the national curriculum in the recentish reforms that they simply lifted the US maths curriculum and translated it.

Why they adopted the "miles wide, inch deep" approach I don't know. Italy consistently flops about at the bottom of the PISA tables for comparable countries and the way out is to import from another country that struggles to aviod leaving behind swathes of average learners as they plough ahead with breadth at the expense of depth ?

Still, my hope remains that today I can dredge up something less dense aimed at his age group by turning to American resources.

Fingers crossed cos going by the sprint of the last three days, today is the day when the squashed (and oft upside down) U arrives to torment us.

And I can't spend another evening trying to understand it myself in my second language, AND teach him the concepts, AND get the mountain of homework down, and still get him some downtime. Not when there is a mountian of Italian and at least three to four other subjects to do as well over the weekend.

I never thought I of all people would be looking forward to decimals and fractions in the coming weeks with so much enthusiam.


empirestateofmind Fri 23-Sep-11 06:13:56

You can do simple Venn diagrams with younger children but set theory is not on the GCSE syllabus so isn't usually done at KS3 or 4. I use Venn diagrams to teach conditional probability for S1 at AS level.

A bit of Googling has shown me that set theory is on the IGCSE maths course. There are some threads running on this in The Student Room. Might be worth a look to see if it is the right sort of stuff.

Iwantacampervan Fri 23-Sep-11 06:40:18

My yr 7 daughter has been studying Venn diagrams and set theory (simpler than your son's though). They have used these links which may help (part 1 logic).

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 07:05:22

Found the threads !

Ta empirestateofmind

He has just started double maths this morning, hopfully in a more cheerful state of mind since I told him that he isn't at all stupid for not 100% getting such a bit wollop of info in just three days cos "back home" this stuff is dne with much bigger kids.

I've found some reference to set theroy in US middle school, so far nothing useful cos they seem to be using completly different symbols, like a C with a little comma stuck to its bottom. Or is that another symbol\concept we are yet to be tormented by ?grin

I'll keep digging on the other side of the Atlantic, but will also check out CGP books, cos even if the content is in the higher level books, it still should be more accessable and better cut up into digestible chunks than his school text book.

And I will not sneak the suitcases off the top of the wardrobe and give in to the voice in my head muttering about making a break for it to the land of set theroy for larger children only.

Woke up at five am this morning after a nightmare of fighting my way through pages of curly brackets. Come back trying to run through mud nightmare, all is forgiven.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 07:11:25


That is a great link love, thank you.

I really think it would help if we took a couple of steps back to sort out any fuzzy areas of comprehension before going over the equation and symbols again this weekend.

Iwantacampervan Fri 23-Sep-11 07:22:06

I really think it would help if we took a couple of steps back to sort out any fuzzy areas of comprehension before going over the equation and symbols again this weekend.

Good idea - if you use section 1.4 then it's an interactive worksheet as well as giving an explanation of some of the symbols. I had to look at it all again and have a go at the questions, as it was many years ago since doing this.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 07:28:19

i've just done the interactive questions too, aside from the sense of a couple of steps back it is amazing how much easier it is for me to work out how to present the concept to DS once I have a clearer understanding mysleF, thanks to the lack of language barrier.

Maybe I need a specialized "Italian for the purpose of not getting you knickers in a twist over middle school maths" course. grin

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Sep-11 07:32:31

The plymouth link on set notation suggests that the C with the comma on the bottom might be the universal set. So {s i n k} in your original example.

juuule Fri 23-Sep-11 07:36:31

Set symbols

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 07:53:53


re set symbols

I love you and want to have your babies !

That's brill, I'll knock out some flashcards on that lot today, cos I'm sure the lack of familiarity with the symbols is causing him issues. And they will be in the first formal test next week for sure.


So the C with a comma in the sates could be the C' (with an apostophe) in the Italian textbook ?

He has taken the textbook to school, but I'm pretty sure universal set ( the squat U and the upside down squat U), (and the automatic improper sub sets they always have, themselves and an empty set, the crossed O one) was part of what was introduced in last night's homework.

Am I on the right track ?

Warm ?

Distinctly chilly ?

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Sep-11 08:03:00

If you have a look here does the C with a comma on the bottom look like the first symbol?

I would understand C' to mean the complement of C - all items from the universal set which aren't in C. So if C is {s i} then C' would be {n k}

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 08:09:15

oh bollocks, just noticed from juules' list that encountered a slight symbold issue last night that might account for some of the confusion

there is

the "smooth" U meaning union
the "smooth" upside down U meaning intersection
and the not smooth right way up U meaning universal set

but didn't notice the uiversal one having a little leg on it and we got tied up in knots cos we thought the two exlanations were talking about the same symbol all went a bit confused

Now I have to add unteaching him and reteaching him to my ever growing list of things to do this weekend cos I screwed it up the first time.


noblegiraffe Fri 23-Sep-11 08:12:05

If it's any use, the squat U is called the Union (starts with a U), what you get if you unite two sets, and the n is called the iNtersection, where the sets intersect - the items in the overlap of the Venn diagram that are in both sets. I can only remember which is which by remembering the U and the N of union and intersection smile

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Sep-11 08:14:35

I have to say, it sounds like a nightmare. It's not that easy in English let alone Italian! My DH said 'Oh yes, I did that in my first year of uni'.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 08:25:22

No you are right, C with a bum comma is the uiversal set (U with a leg) (as opposed to getting universal symbol mixed up with thensmooth U...whose meaning right now escapes me...union ?)

And C' is a complement of C cos one of the tasks he had to domlast night was create a charaterisation, list amd graphic equation for 5 sets of his own invention to demonstrate the relationship between the set (that he invented) a subset of that first set withan apostrophe to show which was the subset.

I remeber that bit cos C v C' just appeared in the presentation text with no explanation of the sudden arrival of the apostrophe and a slight panic set in on my part cos he went all quizical and My big contribution was to look a little gormless until I worked it out.

I have a cunning plan, my sister is a PhD in a complicated ology, my BIL is a former secondary school teacher, as soon as they stop having poorly timed holidays in exotic locations the minute I need them, I am going to make them move here, so they can help him with his homework.

Delegation. Is good.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 09:20:38

it sounds like a nightmare

I'm trying to stay upbeat about it, but I want to cry.

DS missed the social aspects of school and wanted to go back, he did so well in the end of year, school adminstered testing  for the two years he was out (based on the INVALSI exams, which are the Italian version of English SATS) that I felt confident that I'd sorted out the terrible gaps he had accumulated by the time he left school.

And I had  done reams of work to transition him into being a more independant learner even with new and hard (to him) concepts (vital in the Italian school system)  so thought he would be in a better place to cope than he was at elementary. 

I really want to support him in being back, and am evidently not managing that too well, I feel like either way, HE or school I let him down in one way or another.

43 yo and made leaky by set theory.


Off to go find some socks to put on so I can pull them up.

At some point today it will go click in my head and then I can sort out how to teach it to him so he gets it in a more sustained and cohesive way.

It will be fine (repeats in manner of self soothing mantra)

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 11:03:05

ohh look what I found.....

They really do do a book about everything, don't they.

I really found "Mathmatics explained for primary school teachers" useful over the last two years, is anything as good for secondary level ?

Needmoresleep Fri 23-Sep-11 12:15:43

I dont know if they cover set theory, but as a general rule the Galore Park books "so you really want to learn..." are good. We got them for English not Maths, but the series leads up to 13+ Common Entrance which, though different, can be close to if not beyond GCSE.

Because many (most schools!) dont prepare for CE quite a lot of kids have to make up ground at home, so the books are pretty easy for parents to use.

DD seems to have done set theory in Y8 in an Independent School heading for iGCSE, though I tried not to ignore the various symbols and simply hoped she knew what she was doing.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 12:44:08

I got the Galore Park books for English, which I really like.

Ohhh, and the maths ones come with a teacher's guide if I remember rightly.

I think I'll drop them a line and ask them which year group books should cover the topics in his Italian maths book.

Possibly I should get both the one they suggest and the previous year group books if they are way over his age group, so I can pull together a more layered approach, laying a foundation and building up from that til we get up to the level presemted in his textbook ?

Although that might be expensive both euro and time wise, but I'm not sure how else to go about it without leaving huge fundamental gaps or setting him up for a bitty and fuzzy level of understanding. And if he doesn't understsand it I can guarentee he won't remember it for more than ten minutes.

Will drop GP a line and see what they say.

and maybe maths mamoth too, she does "build up from foundation to higher levels" printable books divided by topic.

fastweb Fri 23-Sep-11 12:49:47

...but before I can sort out if Maths Mammoth potentially does set theory, I need to know the over arching topic title.

Would it come under algebra, or something else ?

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