Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parent Night 2008

I think we had a pretty successful parent night last night! It was great to meet so many parents and talk with them about how their students were using math at home, what some of their concerns were, and informally meeting with the students to ask them what they liked and disliked about math and let them know some of the things that we could work on together.

There was one question that I heard a number of times, and that was "Does the math program really work?" This is a very difficult question to answer in a few short minutes, and I'm really not here to debate the issue. However, I do believe that the students are making fantastic progress and are liking math, and that is mainly due to the way it is being implemented.

I thought I would share a couple informational links with you.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a list of family resources that are intended to explain how many of the newer math programs are intended to work and why. They have answers to homework issues, why calculators are used in class, and other common questions:

The What Works Clearinghouse from the Institute of Educational Sciences (part of the US Department of Education) has a report after looking at a number of programs and charting student progress. There is also a link to their summary on Everyday Math.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plots and Graphs

At this time of the year there is a period of review. One of the questions I was recently asked was about the term "mean" instead of "average". That is a common question as many of us were taught using the term 'average'. In simple terms: An average is the relationship a number has to the arithmetic mean; while the mean is the actual value when averaging numbers (finding the central point in relationship to all numbers).

For example, if the arithmetic mean of a set of numbers is 75, a value of 80 may be above average while a value of 76 may still be considered average.

Averaging the numbers in a set of data results in finding the mean. Much like multiplying a factor pair results in finding the product.

I give a brief explanation of data terms, as well as an example of both a line and stem&leaf plot in the voicethread video below.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I plan on using Voicethread to post short tutorial videos. I had a few minutes today and made a quick demonstration tutorial on the Partial Products algorithm. You should see an embedded video within this post and have the ability to play it. With Videothread you, the viewer, have the ability to leave audio comments for me, or simply comment within the blog. Other videos will be added as the school year continues.

Welcome to My Math Classroom

For the past few years I've been teaching with Everyday Mathematics, which is the program that both my own children used when going through school. Like many people, when I first saw the program I was confused and thought that the traditional way (the way I learned math) was better. After working with the program, I have come to change my mind. I began reflecting on how, as an adult, I solve math problems -- particularly when I need to do it in my head.

This is what I realized: There are three different ways of solving a math problem.
  • There is the way you might do it on paper
  • The way you might solve it in your head
  • The way you might find an answer using a calculator
The problem is that the these different approaches are not always interchangeable. If you've ever tried to solve a multiplication problem in your head and tried to work with carries, you might know what I mean.

I plan on using this blog to talk about different math-solving approaches and discuss some of the algorithms that are used in various math classrooms and math programs. Many of the algorithms are the same, but have different names; and some may be approaches that you've created and been using yourself!

Please feel free to post any comments or questions as I update this throughout the school year. I also hope to be having an audio podcast and possibly some video segments.