Talking with Children: Shape Centers

I have been spending considerable effort looking for situations to “mathematize” in my daily interactions with students. Sadly, upper-level students are so mark and answer focused that they spend little time wondering about emerging problems with me. This is not the case with my 8-year old friend. While he was inventing his word problem, he stumbled upon the idea of a middle. Specifically, he told me that four train tracks met in the middle. I quickly asked him if three tracks could also meet in a middle. He responded with an annoyed, “of course”. A problem was born. I drew …

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Talking with Children: Word Problems

My wife and I spend a lot of time with friends who have three young children. I spend most of that time engaged in a combination of trampoline dodge ball and mathematical discourse. I have begun to document the snippets of conversation on the “Talking with Children” page, but decided that larger ideas warrant their own post. The middle child is most willing to think mathematically. During one of our conversations, he decided to turn the tables. What resulted is a wonderful look into a child’s perception of what “mathematics” does. Him:  Maybe you can answer my question?Me:   Sure. What is …

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