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Breaking and Remaking Lesson Plans

I just had an interesting lab session with a school district we’re working with this year. The teachers (K-2) want to extend the scope and dynamics of their lesson plans, and make sure they challenge their students. But the teachers also don’t have much free time, are, in many cases, new to the curriculum, and also feel that they need …

Thoughts on story problems

Story problems! They are the great bugaboo of math class, the problems everyone remembers hating, On the other hand, when educators think of “real-world” math, useful math, or motivated math, story problems are where they want to go. And this instinct makes sense. Story problems should be a fantastic resource in the classroom—a chance for reading comprehension, making sense of …

In Praise of the Open Middle with Pyramid Puzzles

Sometimes you hear the perfect word to describe something you were already doing, but didn’t quite realize you were doing. My most favorite recent case of this came from openmiddle.com. We’ve all heard of open-ended problems, the genuine, intriguing problems that can take us on journeys to unexpected answers. A lesson based around an open-ended problem can be a beautiful …

Pazuju – the great new puzzle you never heard of

I remember years ago reading about Sudoku. Already popular in Japan, the reviewer predicted that it would be featured in newspapers as regularly as crossword puzzles. Since then it indeed had, as predicted, a meteoric rise. Math educators tend to be fans of Sudoku and similar puzzles (especially KenKen). Logic puzzles motivate the same sorts of thinking we use when …

Math Circles for Teachers

. We’ll thrilled to be offering math circles for elementary and middle school teachers in partnership with the Washington Experimental Math Lab at the UW. With their generous support, these unique professional development meetings are absolutely free. Clock hours will be available. You can sign up by filling out this survey: Elementary Math Teacher Circle Middle School Math Teacher Circle …

Summer Staircase Retrospective Part 1

We recently wrapped up our most ambitious project ever, and as data on it starts to roll in, I thought I’d take a moment to share. This summer, we produced a math curriculum for Seattle Public Schools Summer Staircase, a six-week program in Seattle to prevent summer slide and, ambitiously, help kids like school. Our job was to write a …

An Interview with Emily Grosvenor, author of Tessalation!

Tessalation! is a new children’s book about a little girl who discovers tessellations in the outdoor world. I backed the project when it was on Kickstarter earlier this year, and my book just arrived. Both the drawings and the writing is beautiful, and it is, to my knowledge, the only book for kids about tessellations. Emily Grosvenor, the author of …

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QAMA – the calculator that won’t make you lazy

I got a call months ago from someone with what sounded like like a bizarre idea: he claimed he’d invented a special calculator to use as a pedagogical device in the classroom. I was about to dismiss the call as being a crank, when I realized that what he was describing, if it worked, was potentially a brilliant idea. I …

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Book Reviews

I read pop math books. Quite a few, in fact. Also, sometimes publishers send me advance copies and ask for reviews. I generally read these too. What makes me a bad reviewer is that I then wait for 6 – 20 months before I actually write anything down. Time to remedy this situation! Here are a batch of quick reviews …

Tiny Polka Dot has funded!

We’re thrilled to announce that our Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Polka Dot has funded! This means we’ll be bringing this game into the world before the end of the year. There are still 66 hours in the campaign, and you can still support the project, help us reach our stretch goals to make the game even better, and get your …