Candies, Pennies, and Inequalities

I want students to solve systems out of necessity. I want them to feel the interconnectedness of the two (or three) equations. In the past, I’ve asked small groups to build a functional 4×4 magic square. Soon they realize that changing a single number has multiple effects; this is the nature of the system. Unfortunately, abstracting the connections results in more than two variables. This year, I wanted to create the same feeling with only two variables. (The familiar x & y). Enter: Alex Overwijk.We blitzed through a task of his for systems of equations when I participated in a …

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Counting Circles Brainstorm

Let it be known that Sadie Estrella is a Hawaiian treasure.She made her way north for SUM2015 in Saskatoon and I got the opportunity to learn from her about counting circles (as well as share an eventful dinner). It is probably good to understand her work on counting circles before reading a couple of ideas I had during her session. I went to her blog and searched for #countingcircle, and the results can be read here.  *****Use this time to read Sadie’s work*****A couple things struck me while she was talking: She is so honestly passionate. You can tell that she cares when she talks. I immediately …

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The Discourse Effect

This semester, I’ve been attempting to infuse my courses with more opportunities for students to collaborate while solving problems. This post is designed to examine the shift in student disposition throughout the process.I have noticed an increased conceptual understanding almost across the board and this is reflected in the differing solutions on summative assessments. It is also nice to see their marks  grow on these unit tests. I do not believe that paper-and-pencil tests are the best venues for displaying conceptual understanding, but it is awesome when the two intertwine.My unit structureI plan my courses in units of study, and …

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Animating Patterns

There is a very strong emphasis on linear relations and functions in the junior maths in my province. In Grade 9, students begin by analyzing patterns and making sense of bivariate situations. The unit–which I love–concludes with writing rules to describe patterns and working with these equations to interpolate and extrapolate.Grade 10 students continue along this path in the light of functions. There is a large degree of abstraction that occurs in a short amount of time, and droves of students abandon the conceptual background (pattern making) in favour of memorizing numerous formulas. (Slope formula, slope-point, 2-point-slope, slope-intercept, etc.)For the …

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Relation Stations

This semester I desperately wanted to improve how I taught linear relations to Grade 9 students. I had tried some interesting activities in the past, but lost patience and ended up drilling them with notation and algorithms. I wanted to find a way to show the students that equations were just explanations of patterns. I began compiling different linear patterns and dug in for the long haul. I stumbled upon a collection of abandoned, square tiles and decided to use them to put students in the center of the pattern making. I began the lesson by dividing the class into groups of three. …

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A Discussion on Slope

I have taught Grade 10 math more than any other class. I still have lessons that I created during internship that I use. Other sections of the curriculum I have perfected over the years. Today, I added another lesson to the list of those that I will do for a long time. This is my desperate attempt to describe and catalogue it. If I don’t do it now, it will filed as a good, but vague, memory. My goal was to introduce the idea of slope and be able to get numerical values for slopes from graphs. I also wanted …

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Linear Functions With a Bang

Many teachers tell me that it is their creativity that limits their ability to be adaptive in the classroom. Somehow the “reform” movement (or should I say re-movement) has pigeon-holed itself into a connotation where high-energy teachers give vague tasks to groups of interested students. Out of all this, curricular outcomes explode in no particular order. This can’t be further from the truth. In my view, the biggest steps toward changing student learning is changing teacher perception.When presented with a topic to cover, there are two dominant ends of the Math-Ed spectrum. First, you have the transmission approach which carefully …

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Mathematics for Bros

Before I begin, I would like to make sure that the title of this post was not misleading. If you are reading because you are fuming at the gender inequality reference in the title, please relax. I am in no way advocating that Mathematics is for Bros; the following post is a collection of the mathematical quips garnered from the “New York Times” bestseller, The Bro Code. It is a sacred cannon passed down from generation to generation of Bros designed to guide the lives and decisions of Bros worldwide. The book takes a humourous look at the superstitions of …

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The Mathematics of Laundry Soap

The grocery store is a brain workout for the mathematically inclined. Not only do the varying metric and imperial conversions tease out the micro-savings of bulk, but neon yellow discount signs encourage percentages and good ole’ multiplication tables. Often you find adults transfixed in a complex division trying to figure out which ham will be cheaper. Once that calculation is complete, they turn their attention to making sure the portion will be enough to feed their whole family. The sheer volume of available estimations overloads me; coupons just complicate the matter–significantly. When you add the typical male intolerance to shopping, …

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The Linear Relations of Hamburgers

Maybe you have seen the Burger King Stacker commercial where “Meat Scientists” work on an interesting problem. Needless to say, it piqued my curiosity the second I saw it; it was not long until I was trying to suck every ounce of mathematical value from the video. I am sure that I did not accomplish this goal, but I did manage to find some interesting problems and questions. First off, the division of cow by pig seems very contrived. Their result ($) would seem to suggest that (pig)($) = cow. Are cows some sort of expensive swine? The representations of …

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