Archive for the ‘family math’ Category

In the last week before winter break, it is tempting to let the curriculum go a little, to kick back and enjoy my students without my mathematical lens. NOT! For me, there is much more pleasure in going deeper into curriculum. If there is something to let go of, it is the “schoolishness” of some math that we do.  In the video below, I was able to revel in one of my favorite topics: factoring polynomials.  This method, based on thinking of products as area and factors as dimensions, was taught to me by Dr. Tom Kieren, an exceptional scholar and educator.

I would like to see this kind of factoring in all our high school classrooms.  It demonstrates three features of a well chosen algorithm:  transparency, error resistance, and memorability.

What could be better than a challenging math activity each day of December!  I wish I could have embedded it here, but alas, this link will have to do.

This one is for Secondary Students:  http://nrich.maths.org/10472.

And this one is for Primary:  http://nrich.maths.org/10473.

These are great launching pads for parent/child interaction.

My children and I were sitting down to Saturday morning breakfast.  Molly is 7 and Jack is 12.

Me:  Molly, if we have 9 strips of bacon, and three people, how many to do we get each?

Molly:  (without hesitation) Three.

Me:  How do you know?  (in the distance, we hear Jack interject “I would get four!”)

Molly:  Because I can count by threes.  (Againin the distance,  “I would get four!”)

Me:  You did not hesitate!  I think that means you may have been dividing.  Nine divided into three equal groups makes three in each group.  (Switching to my now neglected child.)  Jack do you remember when you had just turned 6 and I purchased two cookies to share between you, Molly, and me.  You were worried about how we would share.  I asked you what we should do and you said, without any pause, 2/3 each.  That was amazing for a 6 year old.  You were even able to tell me how you got that number.

Jack:  That is easy.  You just divide each cookie into three pieces, because there are three people, then give each of us two pieces.

Me:  That is exactly what you said then!  I had been thinking that Molly and I would share one and you could have the other.

Jack:  You mean I got less cookie because of my good math?!  That sucks….  Molly, if mom did not have any bacon, how many would we each get?

“one and a half thirds”

Molly:  One of us would get 4, probably you, and one of us would get 3.  No wait, that is seven.  One of us would get 5 and one of us would get 4.

Me:  What if you each got four and you split the extra one?

Jack:  We would each get 4 and “one and a half thirds”.  (Grin)

I smiled with huge math teacher/mother pride.  It is important to notice when math is part of your daily life.  Sharing things is a lovely space for doing work with fractions.