Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Find the Secret Number

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 … Continue Reading ››

The Scaled Maps Problem

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 ››

Adding and Subtracting Integers

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 ››

Fifth Graders Investigate a Mathematical Code

How much tolerance do you have for puzzlement? When faced with a mathematical conundrum, do you embrace the challenge, or do you feel some trepidation at confronting the unknown? For many of us, an unfamiliar mathematical task is sure to raise our heart rate a beat or two. As teachers, it’s easy to translate these fears … Continue Reading ››

Deducing the “Mystery” Fraction

Estimation is an important mathematical skill, yet we rarely ask students to make estimates that relate to fractions. As part of the Dynamic Number project, we created a "mystery" fraction challenge  that presents a green point somewhere between 0 and 1 on the number line. The point's location can be represented as a fraction with … Continue Reading ››

Algebra Cross Number Puzzles

In my previous post, I wrote about cross number puzzles—puzzles that mix arithmetic and logic to introduce students to place value, commutativity, and the addition and subtraction algorithms. Now, I'd like to present a variant of cross number puzzles that adds some algebra to the mix. Below (and here on its own page) are … Continue Reading ››

Cross Number Puzzles

We live in a golden age of number puzzles. Sudoku is probably the most famous of all modern-day number puzzles, but there are many Japanese puzzles that are also gaining popularity, such as KenKen and Menseki Meiro. In this post, I'd like to introduce a number puzzle for young learners that predates … Continue Reading ››

Digging Deep Into Varignon’s Theorem

In the interactive websketch below (and here on its own page), ABCD is an arbitrary quadrilateral whose midpoints form quadrilateral EFGH. Drag any vertex of ABCD. What do you notice about EFGH? The midpoint quadrilateral theorem, attributed to the French mathematician Pierre Varignon, is relatively new in the canon of geometry theorems, dating to 1731. Mathematics educator Chris Pritchard … Continue Reading ››