Category Archives: Educational Technology

A Double Spiral from David Henderson

David Henderson, one of my two Cornell master's thesis advisors, died this past December. I wrote about David in a prior post, and in particular, his approach of asking us  to grapple with a small number of  rich problems, allowing us  to find our own, often non-traditional, … Continue Reading ››

What’s New with Web Sketchpad in 2019

For the past five years, Scott and I have featured interactive Web Sketchpad models in nearly all our Sine of the Times blog posts.  As much fun as it's been to build "websketches" to share with you, we've really wanted to put the creative power of Web Sketchpad into your hands. And now, finally, that's possible. Today … Continue Reading ››

Multiplication Is Not Repeated Addition

On the NCTM discussion site myNCTM, there's currently an extended discussion about "Division and multiplication of fractions." As the discussion has continued, I've grown concerned with what I see as a fundamental problem with the way we often introduce multiplication as repeated addition: "Multiplying 4 by 5 means we're combining five groups of four items. … Continue Reading ››

A Dynamic Approach to Finding Pirate Treasure

In his 1947 book, One, Two, Three...Infinity, physicist George Gamow poses a pirate treasure problem that has since become a classic. Below is my reworded statement of the puzzle.
Among a pirate's belongings you find the following note: The island where I buried my treasure contains a single palm tree. Find the tree. From the palm tree, … Continue Reading ››

The Scaled Maps Problem

Below are two maps of the United Sates, with the smaller map a 50 percent scaled copy of the original. The edges of the two maps are parallel. Imagine that the maps are printed out, with one resting on top of the other. Believe it or not, you can stick a pin straight through both maps … Continue Reading ››

Adding and Subtracting Integers

A recent post on the my NCTM discussion group asked about tools to help students visualize and understand addition and subtraction of integers. I always found this confusing for some of my Algebra 1 students, mainly because they had been told to memorize some rules about whether to add or subtract the two integers and … Continue Reading ››

Interactive Array Explorations

Arrays can be enormously helpful tools for helping young learners to visualize multiplication.  Early work with arrays also sets the stage for more advanced mathematics, like binomial multiplication. In this blog post, I present several interactive arrays built with Web Sketchpad as part of the Dynamic Number project. The interactive array model below (and … Continue Reading ››

Fifth Graders Investigate a Mathematical Code

How much tolerance do you have for puzzlement? When faced with a mathematical conundrum, do you embrace the challenge, or do you feel some trepidation at confronting the unknown? For many of us, an unfamiliar mathematical task is sure to raise our heart rate a beat or two. As teachers, it’s easy to translate these fears … Continue Reading ››

Binomial Multiplication and Concreteness Fading

I was delighted that Daniel recently posted our Binomial Multiplication sketches in Web Sketchpad format. I thought about those sketches when I noticed a fairly new myNCTM thread on "When and How do we phase out the body in math education?" This thread raises a very important question for us as … Continue Reading ››

Binomial Multiplication and Factoring Games

The four Web Sketchpad activities below from our Dynamic Number project  provide a sequenced collection of challenges and games that develop an area model approach to binomial multiplication and factoring. You can click any of the images to open the interactive websketches on a separate page.

Dynamic Algebra Tiles, Part One

In the first websketch, students … Continue Reading ››