The “I Rank #1 on Google!” Meme

David Ng started it. Kurt Van Etten improved it. And I heard about it from MathMom. Now, you’re invited to play, too. It’s fun!

Here Are the “Rules”

1. Search for your blog on Google. Try to find 5 different phrases that produce your blog as the #1 hit.

2. You may enclose the search phrase in quotes if necessary, but a search without quotes is preferred.

3. Score your search phrases based on the total number of hits. As Kurt wrote:

The ideal search phrase would have your blog being number one out of something like a million hits returned. As it turns out, this is much easier to do than it might sound.

Continue reading The “I Rank #1 on Google!” Meme

How Shall We Teach Fractions?

How did you fare on the Frustrating Fractions Quiz? With so many apparent inconsistencies, we can all see why children (and their teachers) get confused. And yet, fractions are vital to our children’s test scores — and scores are important to college admissions officers. What is a teacher to do? Must we tell our children, “Do it this way, and don’t ask questions”?

Parents and teachers are tempted to wonder if the struggle is worth it. After all, how often do you divide by a fraction in your adult life? If only we could skip the hard stuff…

Continue reading How Shall We Teach Fractions?

Rewriting the History of Math

Here are a couple of quick links to math in the news:

More Fun with Hexa-Trex

Hexa-trex turtle logo

My elementary Math Club students had fun practicing their math facts and “out of the box” thinking with Hexa-Trex puzzles. The object of Hexa-Trex is to find a path through all the number and operation tiles to make a true equation. The “Easy” puzzles are just the right level for my 4th-5th grade students, although they get stumped whenever the equations require Order of Operations. One girl enjoyed the puzzles enough to take our extra pages home for her dad.

Hexa-Trex puzzles were featured in the October issue of Games magazine, and now you can enjoy Hexa-Trex away from the computer with Bogusia Gierus‘s new book, The First Book of Hexa-Trex Puzzles. If you are thinking ahead to Christmas (can it be that time already?!), and if you have a puzzle lover in the family, this little book would make a fun stocking-stuffer.

Quiz: Those Frustrating Fractions

[Photo by jimmiehomeschoolmom.]

Fractions confuse almost everybody. In fact, fractions probably cause more math phobia among children (and their parents) than any other topic before algebra. Middle school textbooks devote a tremendous number of pages to teaching fractions, and still many students find fractions impossible to understand. Standardized tests are stacked with fraction questions.

Fractions are a filter, separating the math haves from the luckless have nots. One major source of difficulty with fractions is that the rules do not seem to make sense. Can you explain these to your children?

Start with an easy one…

Question #1

If you need a common denominator to add or subtract fractions…

  • Why don’t you need a common denominator when you multiply?

Continue reading Quiz: Those Frustrating Fractions

How to Solve Math Problems

That’s a Tough One!

What can you do when you are stumped? Too many students sit and stare at the page, waiting for inspiration to strike — and when the solution doesn’t crack their heads open and step out, fully formed, they complain: “Math is too hard!”

So this year I have given my Math Club students a couple of mini-posters to put up on the wall above their desk, or wherever they do their math homework. The first gives four questions to ask yourself as you think through a math problem, and the second is a list of problem-solving strategies.

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What Do We Mean by “Assume”?

Almost all math problems call for the student to assume one thing or another. Without assumptions — definitions, postulates, axioms, common notions, or whatever you want to call them — mathematics of any kind is impossible. Tony at Pencils Down (who plans to be a math teacher when he grows up) reminds us that, necessary though it may be, we are stepping on dangerous ground when we assume:

Random Samples: Making an Ass of You and Me

Continue reading What Do We Mean by “Assume”?