Like other enthusiasts of mathematics, I’m captivated by the way that mathematical ideas can explain things in the physical world around me, and by the way that I can carry out mathematical thought experiments in my mind and then apply the results to control my external physical environment.
Four years ago, my colleague Scott Steketee and I began brainstorming new Sketchpad activities for a National Science Foundation grant called Dynamic Number. Our goal was to use Sketchpad to make ideas from number, operation, early algebra, and algebra come alive through interactive models that emphasized conceptual understanding. Continue Reading ››
As a fourth-grader in 1977, I had a love-hate relationship with my Addison-Wesley textbook. Its contents overflowed with arithmetic problems, but every so often an entertaining brainteaser appeared to break the monotony of drill practice. These puzzles were clearly marked: Each appeared in a box set aside from the main text and featured a bespectacled … Continue Reading ››
After writing yesterday's post on the connections between polar and Cartesian graphs, I realized that I hadn't said anything about how easy it is to start from scratch and create a polar graph in Sketchpad, so I decided to write this post, and include an instructional video. Here are … Continue Reading ››
The May 2013 Mathematics Teacher has an excellent article by Jonathan F. Lawes ("Graphing Polar Curves") on the value of plotting the same function in both polar and rectangular coordinates. Doing so not only helps students understand how polar coordinates work, but also gives them a novel and revealing … Continue Reading ››
Last week was the fourth session of my spring Advanced Secondary Math Methods class at the University of Pennsylvania. Each year I assign a semester project in which groups of three students use lesson-study techniques—on a small scale—to create, test, refine, teach, evaluate, and document specific shared instructional products, composed of a (possibly multi-day) lesson … Continue Reading ››
Today I leave for my first proper vacation in a year and a half. Last time I took such a vacation, Key sold its high school textbooks to Kendall Hunt and transformed from a publishing company to a educational technology company. This time I just hope to survive the end of the world. 🙂 Before … Continue Reading ››
As part of our guest blog series, we bring you another post from Kathryn Shafer. A former middle school and high school math teacher, Kathy is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Ball State University, Indiana. She's done a variety of … Continue Reading ››