Math Teachers at Play #92

Welcome to the 92nd edition of the Math Teachers At Play math education blog carnival‌—‌a monthly smorgasbord of links to bloggers all around the internet who have great ideas for learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to pre-college.

Let the mathematical fun begin!

By tradition, we start the carnival with a couple of puzzles in honor of our 92nd edition…

Puzzle #1

92 is a pentagonal number, so I was delighted when Lisa Winer‘s (@Lisaqt314) carnival submission came in. Her class spent some time playing around with figurate number puzzles‌—‌including pentagonal numbers‌—‌and collaborated on a blog post about their discoveries.

What fun!

Puzzle #2

Or, try your hand at the classic Queen’s Puzzle:

• What is the maximum number of queens that can be placed on an chessboard such that no two attack one another?

Spoiler: Don’t peek! But the answer is here‌—‌and the cool thing is that there are 92 different ways to do it.

And now, on to the main attraction: the blog posts. Many articles were submitted by their authors; others were drawn from the immense backlog in my rss reader. If you’d like to skip directly to your area of interest, click one of these links.

Along the way, I’ve thrown in some videos in honor of the holiday season.

Please: If you enjoy the carnival, would you consider sending in an entry for next month’s edition? Or volunteering to host sometime in 2016?

Early Learning Activities

• Kids can enjoy making up math problems, but sometimes they can get a bit carried away. Just ask A. O. Fradkin (@aofradkin) about her daughter’s Gruesome Math.
• Nancy Smith (@nancyqsmith) notices her students struggling with the equal sign in Equality. Strong opinions, and even a few tears. It will be interesting to hear what tomorrow brings…

Elementary Exploration And Middle School Mastery

• Joshua Greene (@JoshuaGreene19) offers some great ways to tweak an already-wonderful multiplication game in Times square variations. “It was really interesting to see the different strategies that the students took to determining what would go on their boards.”
• For my own contribution to the carnival, I’ve posted a couple of hands-on arithmetic explorations in A Penny for Your Math.

Adventures in Basic Algebra & Geometry

• Tina Cardone (@crstn85) experiments with Bar Models in Algebra to help her students think about linear equations. “I did not require students to draw a model, but I refused to discuss an incorrect equation with them until they had a model. Kids would tell me ‘I don’t know how to do fractions or percents’ but when I told them to draw a bar, and then draw 4/5, they could do that without assistance…”

Puzzling Recreations

• Pradeep Mutalik challenges readers to “infer the simple rule behind a number sequence that spikes up and down like the beating of a heart” in Be Still My Pulsating Sequence.

Teaching Tips

• How can we get a peek at how our children are thinking? Kristin Gray (@mathminds) starts with a typical set of 1st Grade Story Problems and tweaks them into a lively Notice/Wonder Lesson. “When I told them they would get to choose how many students were at each stop, they were so excited! I gave them a paper with the sentence at the top, let them choose a partner and sent them on their way…”
• Tracy Zager (@tracyzager) talks about her own mathematical journey in The Steep Part of the Learning Curve: “The more math I learn, the better math teacher I am. I keep growing as a learner; I know more about where my kids are headed; and I understand more about what building is going on top of the foundation we construct in elementary school.”
• And finally, you may be interested in my new blog post series exploring what it means to understand math. Check out the first post Understanding Math: A Cultural Problem. More to come soon…

Credits

And that rounds up this edition of the Math Teachers at Play carnival. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

The December 2015 installment of our carnival will open sometime during the week of December 21-25 at Math Misery? blog. If you would like to contribute, please use this handy submission form. Posts must be relevant to students or teachers of preK-12 mathematics. Old posts are welcome, as long as they haven’t been published in past editions of this carnival.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival information page.

We need more volunteers. Classroom teachers, homeschoolers, unschoolers, or anyone who likes to play around with math (even if the only person you “teach” is yourself)‌—‌if you would like to take a turn hosting the Math Teachers at Play blog carnival, please speak up!

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Everyone Can Learn Math

Here’s a new video from Jo Boaler at YouCubed.org.

Boaler’s Four Key Research-Based Messages

There is a huge elephant standing in most math classrooms, it is the idea that only some students can do well in math. Students believe it, parents believe and teachers believe it. The myth that math is a gift that some students have and some do not, is one of the most damaging ideas that pervades education in the US and that stands in the way of students’ math achievement.

—Jo Boaler
Unlocking Children’s Math Potential

A Wealth of Resources

The YouCubed site is full of encouragement and help for families learning math.

— and plenty more!

Claim your two free learning guide booklets, and be one of the first to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.

Citizen Maths: A Free Course to Build Adult Math Skills

Do you want to improve your grasp of math so you can help your children understand their homework? Did math pass you by at school, or have your skills grown rusty over the years? Do you find it hard to apply what you know to the real-life problems you need to solve now—‌like using spreadsheets, interpreting data, or assessing risks?

If so, then the free, online, work-at-your-own-pace Citizen Maths course may be just what you need. Instead of abstract routines, the course uses practical problems to help you grasp some “powerful ideas” in math and see how these ideas apply in work and in life.

What Is Mathematics?

Here’s a bit of fun to brighten up your Monday:

Mathematics: Measuring x Laziness² by Zogg from Betelgeuse (Martin Kuppe).

For Further Exploration

James Grime explains the “Aldebaranian” curve calculator in this video:

And here is the “Map of Mathematistan”. Click to zoom in.

Credit: I contacted @ZoggTheAlien for permission to use the sketch. He said, “Feel free to use it. It’s a Galactic Commons license; you can use it if you don’t claim it’s made by one of your species.”

• Do you have a favorite place in the Land of Mathematics? Why do you like it?
• Most children find themselves stuck in the inner city of Arithmetics. How can we help them get out and explore the landscape?

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Pi: Who Needs That Many Digits?

From Numberphile: Pi is famously calculated to trillions of digits – but Dr. James Grime says 39 is enough.

How you round it off makes a difference:

An extra note from Dr. Grime: “Since pi39 ends in 0, you may think we could use pi38 instead, which has even fewer digits. Unfortunately, the rounding errors of pi38 are ten times larger than the rounding errors of pi39 — more than a hydrogen atom. So that extra decimal place makes a difference, even if it’s 0.”

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Pi and Buffon’s Matches

From Numberphile: Dr Tony Padilla’s unique (and low budget) twist on the Buffon’s Needle experiment to learn the true value of Pi.

For a kid-friendly version of this experiment, try throwing food:

Do you have a favorite family activity for celebrating Pi Day? I’d love to hear it!

Get monthly math tips and activity ideas, and be the first to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions. Sign up for my Tabletop Academy Press Updates email list.