Make Your Own Fractions

In my very first Sine of the Times blog post from January 2012, I wrote about the paucity of fractions that young learners typically encounter in their math classes. While they might construct visual representations of 1/2, 2/3, and 8/12, it's unlikely they'll create models of 7/31, 36/19, or 5/101. That's a shame because without … Continue Reading ››

Stars, Polygons, and Multiples

I've always found my collaborations with teachers to be a great inspiration for curriculum development, and that was especially true of my work with Wendy Lovetro, an elementary-school teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Wendy coordinated an after-school math club at her school, and I used the setting as an opportunity to develop and field test Sketchpad activities for the … Continue Reading ››

Raz’s Magic Multiplying Machine

Here is a question you don't hear very often: What does it feel like to experience multiplication in our bodies? It's a strange question because our typical exposure to multiplication is numerical. I give you two numbers—say, 3 and 5—and you tell me their product, 15. But multiplication need need not be so static and concrete. Back … Continue Reading ››

Pythagoras Plugged In

If there were an award for 'Mathematical Theorem Most Amenable to a Visual Proof,'  the Pythagorean Theorem would surely win. The title of this post is a nod to the Sketchpad activity module Pythagoras Plugged In by Dan Bennett. Dan's book contains 18 visual, interactive proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. And there are more:  The Pythagorean … Continue Reading ››

International Congress for Mathematics Education Part 2

I began this post on Friday night in Hamburg Germany, near the end of ICME, the quadrennial international math-education conference that's been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’m now finishing it on the airplane headed back home. ICME-paper As interesting as many of the presentations have been, they've also been … Continue Reading ››

International Congress for Mathematics Education Part 1

I'm currently attending the 13th International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME) in Hamburg, Germany, with well over 1000 math educators from around the world. Professor Gabriele Kaiser opened the conference with a statement of solidarity with Turkish mathematics teachers and researchers who at the last minute were unable to attend due to newly imposed government … Continue Reading ››

Developing Arithmetic Fluency Through “Drill and Thrill”

In a previous post, I described the game Chisla, an app that succeeds in making basic arithmetic both challenging and tense.  Given a numerical target, you have just 15 seconds to pick numbers from a list of possible addends that will sum to that value. A target of 10 is no big deal, but when the target escalates … Continue Reading ››

Adding and Subtracting on a Dynamic Number Chart

Below is a collection of four interactive number charts that we first introduced in our NSF-funded Dynamic Number project. Start by asking students to press the four directional arrows and to explore what they do. The right arrow, for example, moves the shaded square to the right, and wraps the square to the next row up when you … Continue Reading ››

Estimating Angle Measurement

Angles are a thorny concept to teach because of the fundamentally different ways in which they can be used and understood. In the article What's Your Angle on Angles?, the authors divide the concept of angle into three main groups: angle-as-figure, angle-as-wedge, and angle-as-turn. In the Web Sketchpad game below, we focus on angle-as-turn. Given an angle, students enter an estimate … Continue Reading ››

A Mathematical Mystery Story with Web Sketchpad

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about the value that students derive from writing mathematics with Sketchpad. The post included an example of a simple Logo iteration, easily implemented in Sketchpad, that produces some very complex and interesting shapes depending on the values of several input parameters. In the article* where … Continue Reading ››

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