# The Finger Calendar: An Algorithm at Your Fingertips

At the start of this year, I was reminded of the Finger Calendar method my mom taught me when I was growing up. According to her method, you can figure out the day of the week for any date in history. You just need to calibrate your fingers for the given year. For example, my birthday … Continue Reading ››

# The Basis for Life on Earth

Schools should use open-source textbooks rather than traditional textbooks. That’s the case David Thornburg makes in a recent blog post on Edutopia. Dr. Thornburg bases his reasoning on last month’s discovery by NASA that a microorganism living in Mono Lake uses arsenic rather than phosphorous to construct its DNA. He is entirely right … Continue Reading ››

# The Learning Tree

A long time ago, a veteran colleague shared this analogy with me: Kids learn much in the same way that plants grow. Some plants can grow and mature quickly. Others are like the macadamia tree, which takes 7-10 years to produce those delicious nuts; after it produces the first batch of nuts, it can continue … Continue Reading ››

# Breaking News: Math Nerd Becomes Math Warrior

I do math. I teach math. I love math. I am a math nerd. We're all familiar with the stereotypical image of the math nerd: a weak and fearful loser, a geek, someone with a button-down shirt and glasses. While I don’t sport a button-down shirt, … Continue Reading ››

# Teaching to Standards and Teaching to a Test: What’s the Difference?

I’ve engaged in discussions trying to answer this question ever since I started teaching AP calculus in 1995. Since 2001, when the No Child Left Behind assessments and high school graduation exams were implemented, this question has become even more relevant. In fact, it has raised more questions than answers. For instance: Continue Reading ››

# Mathematics > Computation

I enjoy browsing the TED video collection, which includes a series of talks by “thinkers and doers” in the areas of technology, entertainment, and design (hence the acronym “TED”). Similar to the five-minute Ignite talks that Key Curriculum Press hosts at various math conferences, TED presentations challenge their speakers to give the “talk … Continue Reading ››

# An Open Letter to Morgan R.

Last week I received this letter from a student named Morgan R. (I'm withholding his last name), with no return address or contact information, so I thought I'd respond to him here. First, Morgan's letter: Dear Morgan, I'm sorry that this Investigation has caused you such consternation. I … Continue Reading ››

# Math – Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Did you know that the average American consumes 52 quarts of popcorn a year? Or that sucking on an ice cube burns 2.3 calories? These were just a few of the fascinating facts I learned recently while sitting in the movie theater with my eight year-old … Continue Reading ››

# Influencing the Jury

I was flipping through TV channels recently when I came upon The Defenders, a courtroom drama. The show was new to me, but one courtroom scene—and one line in particular—resonated with my experience as an educator. In this scene, the defense attorney (and star of the show) gave a very short opening statement to the jury. … 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 ››