Category Archives: Elementary Mathematics

Construct a Building: Modeling Multiplication with Arrays

When Scott Steketee and I developed activities for the Dynamic Number project, we thought about ways that dynamic array models could help children to conceptualize multiplication. Rather than presenting children with arrays that were fully formed, we thought it would be instructive for them to build these arrays themselves. That design goal led to the … Continue Reading ››

Adding Fractions on a Number Line

In previous posts, I've presented fraction-related websketches from the Dynamic Number project.  Several of these activities—specifically Dividing and Subdividing and Deducing the Mystery Fraction —focus on a number-line representation of fractions. Below (and here) is another such websketch, with students constructing segments of fractional length that can be placed end to … Continue Reading ››

Early Childhood Math Routines

Mathematics is a wonderful game. It's one that can stretch students' minds and expose them to the beauty and unexpected delights that lie behind every good problem. I've always gravitated to colleagues who share my love of math's playful, game-like side, so I quickly made friends with Toni Cameron when we met at P.S. 503 in … Continue Reading ››

Beam of Light

This month's post is based on a problem that appears in Martin Gardner's Sixth Book of Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American. Below (and here) is a Web Sketchpad model of an orderly forest. There is a tree at every point whose x- and y-coordinates are both integers. These are the green points. You … Continue Reading ››

Dividing and Subdividing

Given a strip of paper, how might you divide it into fourths without using a ruler?  Undoubtedly, you'd fold the strip in half and then in half again to locate the quarter marks. Now suppose that your goal is to divide a strip into sixths. You might start by folding the strip into thirds and … 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 ››

Find the Secret Number

We created the Web Sketchpad game below (and here)  as part of our Dynamic Number project. It challenges elementary-age students to uncover the value of a secret number by collecting and analyzing clues that narrow its range of possible values. The game familiarizes students with inequality signs, introduces the use of x to represent an … 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 ››