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 ››

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 ››

Arrays can be enormously helpful tools for helping young learners to visualize multiplication. Early work with arrays also sets the stage for more advanced mathematics, like binomial multiplication. In this blog post, I present several interactive arrays built with Web Sketchpad as part of the Dynamic Number project. The interactive array model below (and Continue Reading ››

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 ››