“Never Give Up!” Really? Do You Mean It?

During the past 20 years of working in and visiting schools, the most common slogan I have seen in classrooms is “Never Give Up!” The poster below is just one example of the many that we have all seen hanging on classroom walls, encouraging students to persevere when learning becomes difficult. Continue Reading ››

Back to the Future: Finding Traces of the Common Core in an 1893 Textbook

I was taken aback when I saw that a theater was showing the Michael J. Fox movie, Back to the Future, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. My first thought was, “Darn, am I that old?” After taking my Gingko Biloba, my memory was successfully jogged … Continue Reading ››

Deadly Blooms and the Intimidating Box-and-Whisker Plot

Last Thursday at The Marine Mammal Center, where I do volunteer care for sick animals, I attended a scientific presentation called “Not All Blooms Are Beautiful—Some Are Downright Deadly!” Much to my surprise, I arrived at an “aha” math moment, but not before learning about how sea lions may lose their sense of smell … Continue Reading ››

Warning: Discomfort May Lead To Learning

Chaos. That's the way I would describe my first attempt at having my students try cooperative learning. Utter, complete chaos. Which came as a complete surprise to me at the time, because, after all, I had attended the training on cooperative learning and had done everything just the way I'd heard it explained! Continue Reading ››

Issuing a Recall

I was recently in a school where an Algebra 2 teacher was lamenting how painful it was to allow his students to use calculators in class and on tests. His diatribe reminded me of my stand on calculators in the classroom when NCTM first recommended their use in the late 1980s. I questioned why I … Continue Reading ››

So, What Counts as Mathematics?

Last week Andres referenced the Washington Post op-ed, How much math do we really need? This is an important question, particularly since more states are requiring students to take advanced algebra to graduate from high school.  But, I am more interested in the question:

Does taking math matter if students can’t use it?

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