Master Your Tools

As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to try my hand at rewriting the Standards for Mathematical Practice into student-friendly language.

Here’s my version of SMP5…

Math Tip #5: Master Your Tools.

  • Collect problem-solving tools.
  • Practice until you can use them with confidence.
  • Classic math tools: pencil and paper, ruler, protractor, compass.
  • Modern tools: calculator, spreadsheet, computer software, online resources.
  • Physical items: dice, counters, special math manipulatives.
  • Tools for organizing data: graphs, charts, lists, diagrams.
  • Your most important weapon is your own mind. Be eager to explore ideas that deepen your understanding of math concepts.

Continue reading Master Your Tools

Look Beneath the Surface

So, I decided to try my hand at rewriting the Standards for Mathematical Practice into student-friendly language.

Here’s the fourth installment…

Math Tip #4: Look Beneath the Surface.

  • Notice the math behind everyday life.
  • Examine a complex situation. Ignore the parts that aren’t relevant.
  • Pay attention to the big picture, but don’t lose track of the details.
  • Make assumptions that simplify the problem.
  • Express the essential truth using numbers, shapes, or equations.
  • Test how well your model reflects the real world.
  • Draw conclusions. Explain how your solution relates to the original situation.

Continue reading Look Beneath the Surface

Know How to Argue

You may remember, I decided to try my hand at rewriting the Standards for Mathematical Practice into student-friendly language.

My kids loved to argue. Do yours?

Math Tip #3: Know How to Argue.

  • Argue respectfully.
  • Analyze situations.
  • Recognize your own assumptions.
  • Be careful with definitions.
  • Make a guess, then test to see if it’s true.
  • Explain your thoughts. Give evidence for your conclusions.
  • Listen to other people. Ask questions to understand their point of view.
  • Celebrate when someone points out your mistakes. That’s when you learn!

Continue reading Know How to Argue

Don’t Panic

As I mentioned last Saturday, I decided to try my hand at rewriting the Standards for Mathematical Practice into student-friendly language.

Here’s the second installment…

Math Tip #2: Don’t Panic.

  • Don’t let abstraction scare you.
  • Don’t freeze up when you see complex numbers or symbols.
  • Break them down into simpler parts.
  • Take each problem one step at a time.
  • Know the meaning of the math, how it relates to the “real world.”
  • But if it gets in your way, ignore the “real world” situation. Revel in the abstract fantasy.

Continue reading Don’t Panic

Never Give Up

Have you read the Standards for Mathematical Practice? Good idea in theory, but horribly dull and stilted. Like math standards in general, the SMPs sound as if they were written by committee. (Duh!)

I’ve seen several attempts to rewrite the SMPs into student-friendly language. Many of those seem too over-simplified, almost babyish.

Probably I’m just too critical.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at the project. Here’s the first installment…

Math Tip #1: Never Give Up.

  • Fight to make sense of a problem.
  • Think about the things you know.
  • Ponder what a solution might look like.
  • Compare this problem to those you solved in the past.
  • If it seems too hard, make up a simpler version. Can you solve that one?
  • If one approach doesn’t work, try something else.
  • When you get an answer, ask yourself, “Does it truly makes sense?”

Download the poster, if you like:

What do you think? Would this resonate with your students?

What changes do you suggest?

You can find the whole SMP series (eventually) under the tag: Posters.

Update: I Made a Thing

I had so much fun making these posters that I decided to put them into a printable activity guide. It includes the full-color poster shown above and a text-only version, with both also in black-and-white if you need to conserve printer ink.

Here’s the product description…

Join the Math Rebellion: Creative Problem-Solving Tips for Adventurous Students

Take your stand against boring, routine homework.

Fight for truth, justice, and the unexpected answer.

Join the Math Rebellion will show you how to turn any math worksheet into a celebration of intellectual freedom and creative problem-solving.

This 42-page printable activity guide features a series of Math Tips Posters (in color or ink-saving black-and-white) that transform the Standards for Mathematical Practice to resonate with upper-elementary and older students.

Available with 8 1/2 x 11 (letter size) or A4 pages.

Check It Out

Math Journals for Kids and Adults

Journaling is a fantastic way to learn and remember any topic — including math. That’s why I created my dot grid journals for kids and adults.

But I just discovered that my printer hates journals and blank books. They refuse to publish them any more.

How frustrating!

So from now on, you can only get my math journals from Amazon. The largest-river-in-the-world store doesn’t mind dot grid pages (so far).

Silver Lining: Because the books aren’t available to regular bookstores, I don’t have to allow for the traditional bookstore discount. Which means I can cut the prices. By a LOT — the new prices are 30% off the original cost of the books!

Continue reading Math Journals for Kids and Adults

Parallel and Perpendicular Art

I love this easy-but-beautiful math art project!

1. Print a page of dotty or lined graph paper for each student. You’ll also need a ruler and a large assortment of markers or colored pencils.

2. Students draw a line across the page, lining up their ruler with the grid points. The first line can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal.

3. Keep drawing lines, but NEVER cross a line you’ve already drawn. Following the grid will create many lines parallel or perpendicular to each other. What angles can you identify?

4. Color as desired. For a stained-glass effect, outline the colored areas with a black Sharpie marker.

Look for more math art ideas in my FREE new book Geometric Coloring Designs 2: Create Your Own Art. Visit my publisher’s online store and click the “Free Books” button.

CREDITS: I saw this project at Cindy’s Love2Learn2Day blog. She got the idea from Zachary‘s MathActivities site.

Prime Factor Art on a Hundred Chart

The best way to practice math is to play with it — to use the patterns and connections between math concepts in your pursuit of something fun or beautiful.

So this art project is a great way to practice multiplication. Use the prime factors of numbers from one to one hundred to create a colorful design.

Start with a Hundred Chart

First, download this printable file of hundred charts in non-photo blue (or light gray, if you’re printing in grayscale). The file includes:

  • Line-by-line traditional chart, counting from top to bottom.
  • Line-by-line bottom’s-up chart, counting from bottom to top.
  • Ulam’s Spiral chart, spiraling out from the center.
  • Blank grids for making your own patterns.

Download the Printable Charts

Continue reading Prime Factor Art on a Hundred Chart

The Best Math Game Ever

The Substitution Game features low-floor, high-ceiling cooperative play that works with any age (or with a mixed-age group) — and you can use it while distance learning, too. It’s great for building algebraic thinking.

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

The Substitution Game

Math Concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, integers, fractions, equivalence and substitution.

Players: any number (a cooperative game).

Equipment: whiteboard and markers (preferred) or pencil and paper to share. Calculator optional.

Continue reading The Best Math Game Ever

Journaling Pages

This afternoon, I’ve been working on the printable pdf math activity booklets I’ll be sending out as stretch goals to the backers of my Math You Can Play Kickstarter campaign.

Some of the booklets include dot grid pages for student journaling.

I love dot grid pages for writing because I can start a line anywhere on the page, and the dots help me keep things in line. (They’re also great for doodling.)

As students wrestle their thoughts into shape and create explanations, they do the same sort of work that mathematicians do every day. It’s difficult for children (or anyone) to pin down a thought and put it into words. But it’s great practice for life.

Journaling is a great practice for adult learners, too — and don’t we all want to be lifelong learners?

So I thought I’d share the journaling pages with you all, in case you’d like to get your children writing about math. There are three styles, ranging from plain to ornate parchment. Enjoy!

Download the Journaling Pages

UPDATE: The Kickstarter deals have ended, but my playful math books are still available through your favorite online store or by special order at your local bookshop. (Except for the Prealgebra & Geometry Games book, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my email list to get the latest news.)