Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Geometry Challenge from Japan

Here is a wonderful geometry problem from Japan: The five triangles below are all isosceles. The quadrilaterals are all rhombi. The shaded quadrilateral is a square. What is the area of the square? I wondered at first whether the English translation of the problem was correct because with so many side … Continue Reading ››

Creating Animated Factorization Diagrams

Last year, I had the pleasure of co-organizing a geometry-focused coaching collaborative led by Metamorphosis, a New York-based organization that offers professional content coaching to transform the mindset and practices of teachers and administrators. I had so much fun that I decided to do it again! My workshop partners were Metamorphosis staffers Toni Cameron, Ariel Dlugasch, … 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 ››

A Quartet of Ellipse Constructions

The 17th-century Dutch mathematician Frans van Schooten developed "hands-on manipulatives" centuries before the term became popular in math education circles. Below are two images of ellipse-drawing linkages from van Schooten's manuscript, Sive de Organica Conicarum Sectionum in Plano Descriptione, Tractatus (A Treatise on Devices for Drawing Conic Sections). Continue Reading ››

Pentaflake Chaos

Dan Anderson commented on my Pentaflake post to observe that the pentaflake can also be created by a random process, sometimes called the Chaos Game. In this game you start with an arbitrary point and dilate it toward a target point that's randomly chosen from some set … Continue Reading ››

π Day 2014

π Day has always been a special day for me, from my earliest days. In fact, I've never figured out whether I was so eager to celebrate my first π Day that I jumped the gun and sent my mom into labor early, or whether I just wanted be sure to experience all 24 hours … Continue Reading ››

Discovering the Angle Sum and Difference Identities

In my Advanced Methods class at Penn’s Graduate School of Education, my students are working in groups to create shared lesson plans using an inquiry approach. For a number of reasons it can be challenging for these pre-service teachers to identify appropriate topics for student inquiry, but sometimes the brainstorming they do turns into something … Continue Reading ››

Wait for a Date

Consider the following probability question: Two friends arrange for a lunch date between 12:00 and 1:00. A week later, however, neither of them remembers the exact meeting time. As a result, each person arrives at a random time between 12:00 and 1:00 and waits exactly 10 minutes for the other person. When the 10 minutes have passed, … Continue Reading ››

What Is All the Fuss About Lines?

Yesterday, I led a webinar that demonstrated how Sketchpad can be a powerful tool for exploring Common Core algebra topics. My examples included solving for unknowns with a pan balance, exploring the slopes of lines, maximizing the area of a fixed-perimeter rectangle, and graphing trigonometric functions. I touched only briefly on … Continue Reading ››