# Exploring Conic Sections with Sketchpad

As a student, I didn’t place conic sections on my list of favorite high school topics. The standard textbook treatment of the ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola seemed uninspired. There were messy algebraic equations with multiple square roots. There was lots of terminology. Drawing a conic meant plotting several points on graph paper and connecting them with … Continue Reading ››

# The Dynamic Number Project Comes to NCTM Philadelphia

It’s time for the NCTM Annual Meeting! For the past two and a half years, my colleague Scott Steketee and I have been collaborating with elementary teachers in New York and Philadelphia as they field test curriculum materials for the Dynamic Number project. We’ll be showcasing our work at three sessions during the upcoming … Continue Reading ››

At around Pi-hour on Friday afternoon we successfully launched our new website. The night before (the night of the big storm for Bay Area folks), Andres and I were out with a dear former colleague and I mentioned I was going to blog about our new branding, new website, and new name. She said, “You … Continue Reading ››

# Parents, Children, and Functions in Sketchpad

Functions are hard for students. Students seem to master various families of functions – linear, polynomial, exponential, trigonometric, and so forth. They can graph them, evaluate them, transform them, and answer a variety of questions about them. But ask even our better students a question that’s out of the ordinary and we’re likely to be taken … Continue Reading ››

In a recent blog post, Karen Coe referred to Conrad Wolfram’s opinion that programming is to mathematics what composition is to English. I’ve taught programming and written a lot of Sketchpad code, and I appreciate Wolfram’s analogy. In English class, students read books, poems, short stories, essays, and articles—but to gain a deep appreciation for … Continue Reading ››

# The key to Everything Around You Is Right in Your Pocket

"You won't be carrying a calculator with you everywhere you go." A friend of mine recalled his math teacher telling him that. I'm sure we've all heard this or even have said it before ourselves. However, this particular retelling came over twitter, posted from an iPhone, that he keeps with him everywhere he goes. While it … Continue Reading ››

# Testing… 1, 2, 3… testing. This is a test. This is only a test.

Nothing like your back going out to make you feel old. Happens to me every few years, and comes out of the blue. Last time it was when I was brushing my teeth. This time it was tying my shoes. Anyway, after a hospital visit I was told to take a couple of days … Continue Reading ››

# Touching the Math

Sketchpad has always been great for learning by doing. You can create a triangle and then manipulate the angles with your mouse and observe the results. There is something really primal, though, about using an iPad or a Smart Board, reaching in and grabbing the geometry with your bare hands. … Continue Reading ››

# What’s up with Key? A Response to Dan Meyer

The other week Dan Meyer sent out this tweet. While we appreciate the compliment (and the resulting increase in traffic), it's the first part of that sentence … Continue Reading ››

# Shelfware

I went to a workshop recently that mentioned the concept of "shelfware"--software you buy that ends up on a "shelf," not used. Of course, these days that shelf might be virtual. This got me to thinking about iPad apps I've purchased and then minimally or never used, and why. About a month ago, I bought a … Continue Reading ››