What would it take to build a better number grid for young learners? A typical number grid contains 10 columns with the numbers progressing from 1-10, 11-20, 21-30 and so on, from row to row. We decided to upend this tradition and make a dynamic number grid with Web Sketchpad that allows students to … Continue Reading ››

In the interactive Web Sketchpad model below (and here on its own page), ABCD is an arbitrary quadrilateral whose midpoints form quadrilateral EFGH. Drag any vertex of ABCD. What do you notice about EFGH? The midpoint quadrilateral theorem, attributed to the French mathematician Pierre Varignon, is relatively new in the canon of geometry theorems, dating to 1731. Mathematics … Continue Reading ››

At the 2017 NCTM Annual Meeting I was invited to do a short Wednesday-afternoon presentation on Function Dances in the NCTM Networking Lounge. (Here's the handout from the presentation.) The idea of function dances is to get students (or in this case teachers) moving around, acting as the independent and dependent … Continue Reading ››

In my last post, I presented a lovely geometry problem from Japan that was ideally suited to a dynamic geometry approach. Below is a new problem whose construction is nearly identical to the original one. The text says, "Five isosceles triangles have their bases on one line, and there are 10 rhombi. One length of the rhombus … Continue Reading ››

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 ››

Using dynamic geometry software, a student can draw what looks like a square by eyeballing the locations of the vertices. However, the quadrilateral will not stay a square when its vertices are dragged. Building a "real" square requires that it stay a square when any of its parts are dragged. This is only possible by baking … Continue Reading ››

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 ››

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 ››

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 ››

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 ››