My Favourite Surface Area Question

Surface area is intuitive. Intuition is a natural hook into curiosity. When you think something might (or should) be the case, it begs the question, why? It just seems as though textbooks haven’t gotten wind of that.Perusing the surface area chapter of the assigned textbook for my Grade 9 math class offers a steady diet of colourful geometric solids all mashed together (at convenient right angles) in various arrangements. Without fail, the questions ask the same thing:Find the surface area of…Best case, students are asked to “create” a mimicked amalgam of standard solids and then calculate the surface area of …

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The Review Day: Unit Analysis and Scale Factor

There seems to be three sacred cows in mathematics education: the worksheet / exercise set the review day the exam It is not surprising that these three feed off one another, and make up the bulk of assessment in the typical mathematics classroom (including my own). Here’s my disclaimer:While I have been known to slaughter a few of the sacred cows of the instructional process, I have lagged severely behind in my attention to assessment. I value the complexities of learning that occur when student ideas encounter perturbations, curiosities, and other conceptualizations. The type of assessment that comes out of these …

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Large Whiteboard Project

Group whiteboarding has changed how I teach mathematics. It has also changed how students operate as a community of mathematicians.  Since ordering my first set of large whiteboards, our department has ordered four times again, and given workshops to the division’s mathematics teachers. (For a tour through my whiteboarding history, start here: mini whiteboards) My running motto has become,  “Whiteboards give me more than eight-and-a-half by eleven ideas” This, coupled with the assertion that you can’t expect limitless ideas with limited innovation space, caused me to think bigger. This is the result.  Whiteboard paint from the HomeDepot coupled with ebay’d …

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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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Creating Communities of Discourse: Large Whiteboards

I have talked about individual whiteboards on this blog before. My school bought me supplies and I was loving the various classroom activities. While the grouping questions facilitated good mathematical talk between peers, I was still searching for a method to encourage more collegiality where my role could diminish to interested onlooker or curious participant.  So I had this brilliant idea.  Why don’t we get group-sized whiteboards created where students could work collaboratively on tasks? In my mind I had just stumbled upon something uniquely genius, but soon discovered that it had been done by Frank Noschese years previous.  I …

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My Whiteboarding Framework

This year my department decided to make using whiteboards as formative assessment tools our department focus. This was nice because I had already began to experiment with the process. It just meant that: I wasn’t obligated to try yet another “thing” in my room. I would be given better materials and funding to work with. Other math teachers in my building would see the enormous benefits of the technique. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “whiteboarding” it is very simple. Students are given a miniature whiteboard, a whiteboard marker, and a small eraser. Responses are elicited in various …

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Gummy Bear Revisited

The giant gummy bear problem has been floating around the blogosphere for a while. When I first saw it, I knew I wanted to use it. I finally have the perfect opportunity in Foundations of Mathematics 20 this year. (Saskatchewan Curriculum). History of the Problem (As far as I know) Originally presented by Dan Anderson here. Included original Vat19 video and driving question about scale. Adapted by John Scammell here. Edited video and new driving question. Dan Meyer provided a 3Act framework for the problem here. Blair Miller adapted his own 3Act structure here. My apologies go out to anyone …

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