A Geometry Challenge from Japan

Here is a wonderful geometry problem from Japan: The five triangles below are all isosceles. The quadrilaterals are all rhombi. The shaded quadrilateral is a square. What is the area of the square? I wondered at first whether the English translation of the problem was correct because with so many side … Continue Reading ››

Creating Animated Factorization Diagrams

Last year, I had the pleasure of co-organizing a geometry-focused coaching collaborative led by Metamorphosis, a New York-based organization that offers professional content coaching to transform the mindset and practices of teachers and administrators. I had so much fun that I decided to do it again! My workshop partners were Metamorphosis staffers Toni Cameron, Ariel Dlugasch, … Continue Reading ››

The Varied Paths to Constructing a Square

Using dynamic geometry software, a student can draw what looks like a square by eyeballing the locations of the vertices. However, the quadrilateral will not stay a square when its vertices are dragged. Building a "real" square requires that it stay a square when any of its parts are dragged. This is only possible by baking … Continue Reading ››

Make Your Own Fractions

In my very first Sine of the Times blog post from January 2012, I wrote about the paucity of fractions that young learners typically encounter in their math classes. While they might construct visual representations of 1/2, 2/3, and 8/12, it's unlikely they'll create models of 7/31, 36/19, or 5/101. That's a shame because without … Continue Reading ››

Stars, Polygons, and Multiples

I've always found my collaborations with teachers to be a great inspiration for curriculum development, and that was especially true of my work with Wendy Lovetro, an elementary-school teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Wendy coordinated an after-school math club at her school, and I used the setting as an opportunity to develop and field test Sketchpad activities for the … Continue Reading ››

Raz’s Magic Multiplying Machine

Here is a question you don't hear very often: What does it feel like to experience multiplication in our bodies? It's a strange question because our typical exposure to multiplication is numerical. I give you two numbers—say, 3 and 5—and you tell me their product, 15. But multiplication need need not be so static and concrete. Back … Continue Reading ››

Pythagoras Plugged In

If there were an award for 'Mathematical Theorem Most Amenable to a Visual Proof,'  the Pythagorean Theorem would surely win. The title of this post is a nod to the Sketchpad activity module Pythagoras Plugged In by Dan Bennett. Dan's book contains 18 visual, interactive proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. And there are more:  The Pythagorean … Continue Reading ››

International Congress for Mathematics Education Part 2

I began this post on Friday night in Hamburg Germany, near the end of ICME, the quadrennial international math-education conference that's been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’m now finishing it on the airplane headed back home. ICME-paper As interesting as many of the presentations have been, they've also been … Continue Reading ››

International Congress for Mathematics Education Part 1

I'm currently attending the 13th International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME) in Hamburg, Germany, with well over 1000 math educators from around the world. Professor Gabriele Kaiser opened the conference with a statement of solidarity with Turkish mathematics teachers and researchers who at the last minute were unable to attend due to newly imposed government … Continue Reading ››

Developing Arithmetic Fluency Through “Drill and Thrill”

In a previous post, I described the game Chisla, an app that succeeds in making basic arithmetic both challenging and tense.  Given a numerical target, you have just 15 seconds to pick numbers from a list of possible addends that will sum to that value. A target of 10 is no big deal, but when the target escalates … Continue Reading ››

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