Showing posts from March, 2009

Elementary math & reasoning skills

Someone recently sent me a VERY interesting link:
The Story of an Experiment

Photo by foundphotoslj

This experiment in math teaching was done in the 1930s by by L. P. Benezet, and the main gist of it was that formal arithmetic studies were delayed until the latter half of 6th grade. Instead, the instruction concentrated on "teaching the children to read, to reason, and to recite - my new Three R's."

They also were taught about numbers they encountered in their reading materials, about time, about measuring units, estimation, and coins. Finally in 5th and 6th grade they also learn skip-counting. Formal arithmetic, meaning paper-and pencil work with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using a textbook began in latter half of 6th grade and continued till 8th grade.

The experiment was a huge success. Mr. Benezet compared the children's abilities in the experimental classroom to those of the traditional classrooms, and every time the "experimental" ch…

The Best and Worst Jobs

You might find this interesting: in a study ranking the best and worst occupations in the US, guess where mathematicians landed!


The study was looking at job hazards, pay, stress levels, environment, and a few other factors. Take a look at it here: Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs.

Now, this study didn't take into account an individual's likes and preferences and feelings ... If someone REALLY loves cutting timber in a forest, then obviously that's a perfect job for them. But it's still interesting to note that mathematician, statistician, biologist, software engineer, and other "thinking" jobs ranked very high.

Division of fractions conceptually

I've made two videos on a very important topic (I feel) of fraction division.

The two videos show a step-by-step approach for teaching division of fractions conceptually:

Start with sharing divisions that divide evenly. For example, 4/7 ÷ 2 can be thought of as "Two people share 4/7 of a pie evenly. How much of the pie does each person get?"

Children can figure these out mentally without using any rule.

Continue to measurement divisions where we think, "How many times does the divisor fit into the dividend?". Again, the problems should first be designed so that the divisions are even. For example, 4 ÷ (1/2) means "How many times does 1/2 fit into 4?" Or, 3 1/5 ÷ 2/5 means "How many times does 2/5 fit into 3 1/5?" Again, no rule is necessary to solve these - just logical thinking.

Next, study measurement divisions with the dividend of one. This leads to the concept of reciprocal numbers. For example, 1 ÷ 3/4 is thought of as "How many times…

Introducing Make It Real Learning workbooks

I have recently had the pleasure to add Make It Real Learning workbooks to my site. These books contain real-life math activities with real-life data, companies, and situations. They are written by Frank Wilson.

Arithmetic I

Fractions, Percents, and Decimals I

Linear Functions I

Calculus I

Periodic and Piecewise Functions I
Some examples of the topics included in these activities are: cell phone plans, autism, population growth, cooking, borrowing money, credit cards, life spans, population growth, and music downloads. But there are many more, more than I can list here.

As students work through the problems, they can use the math skills and concepts they have learned in their math curriculum (such as the concept of average or graphing), and apply those to a situation from real life.

Each activity-lesson in the book contains several questions about the situation, starting with basics and going into more in-depth evaluations, and should be adequate for one-two complete class periods.

Why does th…

Free webinar - Math, Science, and Real Books

I just saw this on the LivingMathForum Yahoo Group, and some of you might be interested in it. I'm not sure if I'll make it there, but it sounds interesting.

I will copy the info about it below

Math, Science, and Real Books Webinar -- then click on Bringing Joy to Your Homeschool Math and Science Lessons

Session date: Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Starting time: 7:30 pm, Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Presenters: Maureen Wittmann

Description: Literature isn't just for reading! You can teach math, science, language arts, and more using living books. This is the third in a series of three talks on the topic of teaching through real books.

Have you ever said out loud, "I hate math!" Or, "Math was my worst subject!" Was science always a tough subject for you? Do you struggle wondering how you can bring the fullness of the subject to your children? If so, you…

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Math Mammoth Clock book free download

CurrClick is offering my title, "Math Mammoth Clock", this week as a free download. If interested, head there, register with them if you haven't already, and get it!

Remember, it is only this week. They are celebrating The Ebook Week, and specifically wished to have one of my titles on the front page.

Pi Day

π Day (Pi Day) is upon us soon (on 3/14 or March 14). If you'd like to prepare for it and have some activities for your children/students, check these resources.

If your students don't yet know what Pi is, start with the basics: it is very fitting to explain what pi is on Pi Day.

Here's a Pi webquest for older students who can search the Internet and encyclopedias on their own.

BrainPop has a movie about Pi.

Remember also that 22/7 is a great fractional approximation to Pi. This means that if 7 pepperonis nicely fit in the diameter of a pizza, then 22 nicely fit to go around.

Find where your birthday is in Pi - e.g. if your birthday is March 14, 1971, find where in Pi's digits is the sequence 31471. (Mine wasn't anywhere in the digits it searched.)

Then you can read Pi limericks.

Lastly, here's one pi poster for your Pi Day. Hopefully that fills your "appetite" for "pi"!

Carnival picks

I have a collection of interesting links for you today; mostly some picks from Math Teachers At Play #2 blog carnival, which you SHOULD visit. Denise always has good stuff and really nice photos to spice up the reading.

Here's a neat way to practice multiplication tables by Math Mojo.

I also liked some simple dissection puzzles; you'll even get a free worksheet download.

Nick has posted two geometry "Wrapper" problems

This one is hilarious - lots of pictures of mathematical clocks!

Those were all from the carnival; please check out all the other posts as well; it is a good carnival!

Lastly, I visited this yesterday, and I think ALL of us should check out what a trillion dollars looks like.

Credit crisis video

I thought some of you might enjoy this video about the credit crisis. It's visually very well made.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This video is also available on YouTube in two parts: Credit Crisis Part 1 and Credit Crisis Part 2.

It's square root day

Today - 3/3/09 - happens to be a square root day! It's because 3 is the square root of 9 (3 × 3 = 9). The previous square root day was 2/2/04. And then next one is 4/4/16.

An exercise for students: how many square root days are there in a century?
See Wikipedia for an answer..

Read also how the teacher Ron Gordon celebrates square root day!

Fractions to decimals calculator

This is the COOLEST fractions to decimals calculator I've seen! It will convert a fraction into a decimal to any number of decimal places, and TELL you if it is a recurring decimal, and how many digits its period is.

I tried 2/10392, and it said "2/10392=1/5196 has 2 initial digits followed by a period of 432 digits." I won't copy the actual digits here...

Hat Tip goes to MathNotations Blog.