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 ››

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 ››

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 … Continue Reading ››

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 ››

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 ››

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 ››

Estimation is an important mathematical skill, yet we rarely ask students to make estimates that relate to fractions. As part of the Dynamic Number project, we created a "mystery" fraction challenge that presents a green point somewhere between 0 and 1 on the number line. The point's location can be represented as a fraction with numerator between … Continue Reading ››

We live in a golden age of number puzzles. Sudoku is probably the most famous of all modern-day number puzzles, but there are many Japanese puzzles that are also gaining popularity, such as KenKen and Menseki Meiro. In this post, I'd like to introduce a number puzzle for young learners that predates … Continue Reading ››

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 ››