Three Strategies to Help Improve Students’ Conception of Math – Part 2: Do Useful Math

In my previous post, I discussed one way to provide tasks that help students reimagine the discipline of mathematics: doing creative math. This post discusses the second of three strategies: doing useful math. To me, the interesting thing about math is that it is at once a plaything with seemingly no utility and an immensely … Continue reading Three Strategies to Help Improve Students’ Conception of Math – Part 2: Do Useful Math

Problems: then a miracle occurs

This is a post in the ongoing Emergent Math mini-series: Routines, Lessons, Problems, and Projects. Ah problems. I have to reveal my bias here: I love problems. Problematic problems. Problems are where I honestly cut my teeth as an educator. If you're reading this blog, might have stumbled across my Problem-Based Learning (more on that … Continue reading Problems: then a miracle occurs

Counting Idling Cars: An Elementary Math Project Based Learning Unit

I'm sitting in my car, waiting to pick up my son from school. It's too cold to wait outside  this time of year so I keep the heat on, the engine running, and continue listening to the Dunc'd On Basketball Podcast, the nerdiest podcast about basketball out there. I'm also quite anti-social, so I prefer … Continue reading Counting Idling Cars: An Elementary Math Project Based Learning Unit

Systems of Linear Inequalities: Paleontological Dig

(Editor's note: the original post and activity mistook Paleontology for Archaeology. Archaeology is the study of human made fossils; paleontology is the study of dinosaur remains. The terminology has since been corrected and updated. Thanks to the commenters for the newfound knowledge.)  Here's an activity on systems of inequalities that teaches or reinforces the following concepts: … Continue reading Systems of Linear Inequalities: Paleontological Dig

Is bad context worse than no context?

In elementary classes we consider it a good thing to be able to move from the abstract to the concrete. We ask students to count and perform arithmetic on objects, even contrived ones. We ask students to group socks, slice pizzas, and describe snowballs. A critical person might suggest these are all examples of pseudo-context, … Continue reading Is bad context worse than no context?

What does it mean to be problem based? An attempt to unwind “PrBL.”

Despite an increased awareness of this thing called "Problem-Based Learning," (PBL/PrBL) there's some nebulousness in what that word "based" means. Does it mean that students learn content within a problem? Does it mean students are honing their problem solving skills? If one were to ask me "what makes a lesson problem-based?" I honestly don't have a … Continue reading What does it mean to be problem based? An attempt to unwind “PrBL.”

Using August inservice to plan for May

In case you hadn't noticed, school is starting soon for many teachers and students. Some have already started! Much of teachers' inservice time is gobbled up by sometimes-helpful, sometimes-not professional development, new school procedures, supply gathering and those other necessities that come along with having a captive staff for perhaps the only time all year. … Continue reading Using August inservice to plan for May

On designing tasks to elicit questions

Some interesting criticism of my most recent post on question mapping from Dan: the idea of considering questions you want your students to ask that will enable the teacher to more readily get into content. There seems to be two strains of criticism, which I'll attempt to distill here. Criticism 1: By designing tasks to … Continue reading On designing tasks to elicit questions

Question Mapping

I'm really good at enjoying the cleverness of a scenario and grafting (sometimes seamlessly, sometimes less so) it onto a mathematical standard (or two or three). I'm less good at starting with a standard (or two) and designing a scenario that appropriately and precisely maps onto it. Sometimes that results in a problem that doesn't … Continue reading Question Mapping

Thought experiment: combine Algebra 1 and Physical Education

(Part of the reason I started this blog is so I'd have a place to play around with ideas, no matter how non-field-tested they may be. Consider this one of my many half-baked ideas that I haven't fully thought through.)  One of the hallmarks of a New Tech Network school - the network of schools … Continue reading Thought experiment: combine Algebra 1 and Physical Education