Classroom Clean-Up

No more students for this year. I’ve spent a full day cleaning up and re-arranging my space for my incoming intern (for whom I’m very excited for).  Amidst the broken calculators and stray linking cubes, I found a note that a student wrote me from my first year of teaching. It served as a brief reminder of why I attempt to curate a community of mathematical action with my students. It isn’t the easiest way to teach, but has a limitless ceiling.   Dear Mr. Banting, You called me a “genius” in math class once, and that night I went …

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Fraction Talks

Discussion is one of the organic ways through which human interaction occurs, but not all discussion is created equal in the math classroom. The tone of discussion relies on the mode of listening (Davis, 1996). Most classroom talk focuses on an evaluative mode of listening. Students are expected to share, compare, and contrast solutions to problems.I do think that justification of their solutions gets at some important points regarding mathematical reasoning, but would like to move the discussion to center around that exact feature–the reasoning. Rather than piecing together the pieces of isolated reasoning (which I still think has value), I want to see a collective …

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Math Wars North

O Canada!The debate about best practice in Canadian math education has exploded once again. This time attracting high profile combatants.This post is not meant to resolve deep-seated values, but rather provide a perspective that gets lost in the partisan arguments. It wouldn’t take a long time to place me in a camp, but that would be assuming that there are two camps that want drastically different things.Now there are certainly battle lines drawn, but would it be possible to distill the highbrow mudslinging into a succinct cause–a common denominator?The recent tweet conversation between Dan Meyer and Robert Craigen (storied by @MathewMaddux here) serves as …

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The Scale of Coffee Cups

A colleague is a religious McDonalds’ coffee drinker. One day she showed up with a medium coffee and a cream on the side. It was in two separate cups: I asked her for her cups when she was done. (She is also a math teacher so understands that this is not a creepy request. It is no weirder than the time I bought 400 ping pong balls, or 1500 bendy straws). I then made her a request to buy a large and small coffee in the future and save me the cups. The result was a family of coffee cups …

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Teacher Hack: iPads in Exams

My department has a set of 10 iPads for mathematics instruction. I use them primarily for the powers of Desmos. When I introduce teachers to the program, they get excited about the possibilities, but are immediately worried about one thing: How is it used in exams? While this may be a tad short-sighted, it is a legitimate concern. Teachers simply don’t have the resources to constantly be monitoring a class of students to be sure that they are not accessing the internet or communicating with each other (which is fairly easily fixed in settings). The greatest part of iPad technology is …

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