Math Teachers at Play 30
Welcome to the September 17, 2010 edition of math teachers at play. This is MTaP #30.
This MTaP may look a little different. There is no theme weaving its way through and unifying the sections. We are not opening with a discussion of the number 30 (no matter how many cool things we could have come up with), and the sections are, um, different.
It has occurred to some of us that the experience a student has in mathematics may differ greatly from place to place, type of school (or homeschool, or unschool), and most of all, from age to age, grade level to grade level, and content area to content area. The sections in this carnival correspond to none of those (with one exception). Instead, posts are joined by the mode of playing/learning that is taking place.
Comments on this organization would be greatly appreciated. In any event, one day late, and slightly disorganized? reorganized? “other-organized”? – however you end up seeing it – here it is:
Songs? We learn through songs. The rhythms and melodies hold our memories. The rhyme reinforces. I learned from a senior teacher to deliver some carefully scanned (for meter) instructions in a slight syncopation – worked like a charm. Eg. “Bring the SMALLer to the LARGer by ADDing the OPPosite”
Scott Witkowsky plays Wordle with high school students at 71 Slide Rules: Smart at Math is the Turtle, For Each One will Love Figuring out a Wordle.
Rebecca Zook reorganizes and renotates logarithms, creating a new graphic-mnemonic device: An Easy Way to Remember How Logarithmic Notation Works posted at Triangle Suitcase. Rebecca says “This is an easy way to remember how logarithmic notation works that I’d like to share with the world. I’ve noticed that one of the challenges of mastering and remembering how logarithms work is just knowing what goes where. My students helped me develop this mnemonic device and it has really helped!”
Tracy advocates that you Incorporate a Daily Graph into the Morning Routine: 5th in Our Math Teaching Tips Series. Posted at Math Learning, Fun & Education Blog : Dreambox Learning.
Sue Van Hattum (of math mama writes) shares a resourceful, resource-free graphing lesson: Today In Class: A Good Day to Do Without the Textbook
Ryan O’Grady shows his students videos, then asks provocative questions (in the style of Meyer’s What Can We Do With This) He offered two posts: The Lego House and Longest Shot both posted at Maths at SBHS.
Are these all about pictures? Certainly Scott and Clemencia, for very different audiences, are incorporating the picture as the primary part of the learning, and both do include having the child create the picture. But aren’t Guillermo and Rebecca really doing something similar? Their pictures are incorporated into the lessons – but they are more catalyst than product. I’m arguing that Tracy and Sue are using a specific sort of abstract picture: a graph. And finally, I sense that Ryan’s videos inspired the respective lessons, and not the other way round. That’s different, look at the moving images and decide to do other math, but it is related – the visual is central. Visuals, in a variety of ways, can bridge the gap from concrete to abstract. Can a visual, a representation, be used to add the beginning of abstraction to something concrete? Or, conversely, can an abstract topic open with a visual, to connect back with more concrete work from earlier, perhaps years earlier?
dana maize has a host of activities (for the preschoolers she babysits): Our school week, having fun with math posted at crazy maize world. She used to homeschool her kids, and seems to be stuck on teaching even with them at school.
Cynthia creates activity cards. This one is a hands-on estimation task (comparing sizes, and measuring): Math Workbox: Estimation posted at love2learn2day, saying, “This is the first in a series of posts with free, 3×5″ cards to download with activities to go with math-related children’s books. Ideal for workboxes or centers.”
Michelle Martin at Life Among the Elms gets some Minnesota 4th and 5th graders to expand their sense of scale by using base 10 blocks to model a close election: Life Among the Elms: Every Vote Counts. “I teach at a progressive school where we make every attempt to find “real world” ways to make math make sense. The recent Minnesota senate race gave us a great opportunity to look at “big numbers.””
Is hands-on the realm of preschoolers? Up to 3rd grade? 6th? I think, as we move to more abstract work, we are far too blithe about leaving the blocks and pennies other toys behind. We should encourage kids to work with them, and when it becomes appropriate, without them. But no need to banish them.
Desert before dinner? Rebecca Zook makes the case for using brownies, not pizza to represent fractions: Confused about fractions? Visualize brownies, not pizzas. “Pizzas. They’re the best way to represent fractions, right? Well, that’s what I thought until I tried using pizzas to teach equivalent fractions. Instead, I now use the brownie. Showed Math U See fraction overlays, which make it much easier for students to understand how equivalent fractions work.”
Pat Ballew has another method: Division of Fractions by the Alien Method (and followup) posted at Pat’sBlog. “A Christmas Classroom story with Aliens, Robots and Division of Fractions.” It’s worth plugging Pat’s blog – I have fun reading the stuff – it challenges me constantly, but rarely does the topic become wildly advanced.
Fractions in its own section? My call. I think they are special. They are perhaps the most common topic encountered and not mastered. Hmm. In any subject.
Puzzles and Problems
Denise is Planning a New Math Club (posted at Let’s Play Math!) and is facing challenges and has some ideas. “I’m starting up the school year with a couple of new math clubs, which created a lot of interest among local homeschoolers.”
Method and mode left up to the solver…
On Teaching and Learning Math
beatrice ekwa ekoko an unschooler at radio free school shares an essay: Mindful Mathematics . Mathematics can be a positive, fascinating experience (she prefers divorced from school, I think) despite the bad reputation it often gets.
Jonathan/jd2718/me. I have a short essay, too. It probably needs updating. It certainly needs reformatting. But I’ll stand by it in its current form: Outlook on Teaching Math.
These kinds of discussions are always useful. Even the name of this carnival itself, Math Teachers at Play provokes. My thought: those who engage in the activity, teaching/playing, often have far more to say than we listen to. And those divorced from teaching/playing often get listened to far more than we do, but with much less of use to say. Let teachers talk about teaching and playing. It leads to discussions worth following and participating in.
That concludes this edition.
If you really miss the “Discuss the number” feature, go visit the previous edition, MTaP #29, where Jason shared a 29/30 puzzle right up top.