Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Snapshot: 6 Order of Operations

Sixth grade grappled with why it is necessary to have a single answer when solving an expression. We discussed how mathematics is a form of communication and that if every "sentence" had different meanings, it would be very hard to communicate clearly and effectively. Hence, the importance of the order of operations. This foundation is helping us develop the "grammar rules" of how to create sentences and share our mathematical thoughts. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Snapshot: 8A Slope Battleship

To solidify and extend our understanding of slopes of lines and to get practice graphing linear equations, we played Slope Battleship.  Teams of two battled with each other to sink the other team's submarine, destroyer, and battleship. Each team gave the other team an equation for a line and they would report back if it was a hit or miss. Some games got very animated!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Snapshot: 7A Variables & Expressions

The seventh graders are grappling with making the leap from concrete numbers to abstract algebraic symbols. This transition is developmental and is nurtured by regular exposure to patterns and looking for connections to the concrete examples. This week, 7A was working out the concept of like algebraic terms. How is x different than an x squared? What does 2x mean? How do we do operations on like and unlike terms?  These the foundation the algebra that is to come.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Snapshot: 6 Millet by the Million

The sixth grade took time to explore the meaning of place value and the relative size of large numbers. They worked as a collective to count out a million millet seeds to visual the number one million. We started by individually counting out 10 millet. Each student then counted out 100 millet. Many were surprised by how small one hundred appeared in their Dixie cups.
10 millet

100 millet

One thousand millet was collected by each table. At this point, we realized that this method was going to take all year! So we moved to counting by weight. We weighted the 1000 millet to the nearest hundredth of a gram. We discovered that our numbers varied by almost eight-tenths of a gram! There was great discussion about how to proceed. We agreed that finding an average weight for 1000 was needed but could not decide whether or not to add in the outlier in the data or to discard it. We looked at how much of a difference including the outlier made in our average and we finally settled on discarding the data because it made our 1000 count vary by several hundred millet. From this point, the process went quickly. Each split counted out 333,330 millet. We came together as a grade and ceremonially poured our millet together and added the final 10 millet to make a million! 

It was fun to do a collaborative project with the whole grade. Now, when we talk about millions, we have a point of reference to understand and conceptualize this very large number!

Friday, September 18, 2015

8A: The Banach-Tarski Parody

My classes quickly learn that I am easily side-tracked by interesting math ideas and conversations. This VSauce video was sent to me by a student and I felt compelled to share it with the rest of the class. In the last two years, we have tackled the concept of infinite, on multiple occasions. This video does a tremendous job of simplifying this abstract and complex idea. Our brains were stretched and I loved the interesting ideas it generated in class. I hope if you are interested in learning more, you will check out the links on the YouTube page and the many books referenced at the end of the video.

Thank you to JP for sharing this video with me and the rest of the class!

Curriculum Night 2015

It was great to meet and see so many parents at Curriculum Night! It is a pleasure working with your daughter/son and I look forward to an exciting and productive year. In case you missed the evening, you can find electronic copies of my handouts below. I have included a couple of helpful articles and a list of questions that might help you guide working with your child in math. 

6th Grade Curriculum Night Handout
7th Grade Curriculum Night Handout
8th Grade Curriculum Night Handout

Suggested Reading for Parents

      Do your children tell you how exciting maths is or how objects that you count stay the same number even when you move them around? How patterns can be seen in flowers and pine cones? If they haven’t started school yet they might talk about maths with curiosity and wonder, but if they have begun they are more likely to tell you that maths is confusing and scary.
      Dr. Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics and author, examines the way that maths has become the most dreaded subject for many school children, plus how we can help them begin to enjoy and even excel at it.

 This is a document put together by the South Brunswick School District in New Jersey that offers a list of questions to engage your child to think critically about what they are doing in math. Also included are a list of resources for math. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Snapshot: 7A Number Visuals

The seventh grade started off the year making connections between numbers and visualization of numbers. We studied the image below to find patterns and relationships between numbers. We found patterns of factors, multiples, and prime numbers. We predicted and designed visuals for 36 and 40. What do you notice when you look at these numbers visualized? 

Image credit:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Snapshot: 8A Collaborative Problem-Solving

It was great to welcome the 8's back from their travels to Catalina Island. We kicked off the year with a collaborative problem-solving activity called "31-underful!" Each table was given a deck of cards and required to make a 5x5 array where each column and row had a sum of 31. Each table and group had a different approach and different way to solve the challenges that emerged along the way. Each group presented their strategy and solution to the whole class. It helped to dust off our math skills and start of the year communicating their thinking. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Math is.....

"Math is......" was the prompt. The sixth graders responded to this prompt and the answers were diverse. This is a sampling of the answers turned in. We are getting to know each other and I love seeing their voices emerging already!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Art Benjamin's The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why on Sept 11, 2015

This should be a great event hosted at the new Proof School in San Francisco. You can reserve the free tickets here.

 Art Benjamin's The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why

On the evening of Friday, September 11, we (the Proof School) will host Art Benjamin for a public talk and book signing. His newest book, The Magic of Math, will be available for sale at a discounted rate of $17. This event is free, but tickets are limited.

Dr. Arthur Benjamin is both a professor of mathematics and a magician. He has appeared on many television and radio programs, including The Today Show, CNN, The Colbert Report, and National Public Radio. He has been profiled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Scientific American, Discover, Omni, Esquire, Wired, People Magazine, and Reader's Digest.
Dr. Benjamin has given 3 TED Talks, one of which has been viewed over seven million times. He is a member of Proof School's Advisory Board.