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 ››

Geometry tends not to receive much love in elementary curricula, and that's a shame. In this post, I'll describe some of my new ideas for using Web Sketchpad to introduce young learners to fundamental properties of circles.

On page 1 of the websketch below (and here), begin by asking students to drag … Continue Reading ››

David Henderson, the author of Experiencing Geometry, died this past December. I wrote about David in a prior post, and in particular, his approach of asking us to grapple with a small number of rich problems, allowing us to find our own, often non-traditional, ways of … Continue Reading ››

When the Metamorphosis team of content coaches meet at their New York office, the day is filled with Qi Gong, video case analysis, good food, and—best of all—a mathematical challenge for everyone to investigate and discuss. These problems are chosen to be accessible across a wide range of grade levels and to allow for a variety … Continue Reading ››

For the past five years, Scott and I have featured interactive Web Sketchpad models in nearly all our Sine of the Times blog posts. As much fun as it's been to build "websketches" to share with you, we've really wanted to put the creative power of Web Sketchpad into your hands.
And now, finally, that's … 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 ››

In his 1947 book, One, Two, Three...Infinity, physicist George Gamow poses a pirate treasure problem that has since become a classic. Below is my reworded statement of the puzzle.

Among a pirate's belongings you find the following note:
The island where I buried my treasure contains a single palm tree. Find the tree. From the palm tree, … Continue Reading ››

Below are two maps of the United Sates, with the smaller map a 50 percent scaled copy of the original. The edges of the two maps are parallel. Imagine that the maps are printed out, with one resting on top of the other.
Believe it or not, you can stick a pin straight through both maps … 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 ››