# Blog

## Minimum Polyomino Cover

When I taught elementary school (1971-1981 or so) I had more time for “enrichment”, which for me meant excursions off the beaten curricular path, especially into the world of recreational math. As a result, my first publications were largely about geometric puzzles. (Those books were assembled a few years later. More info about my books.) Anyway, one… Continue reading Minimum Polyomino Cover

## Asilomar Report: Conic Sections

As my retirement starts to kick in, I no longer attend conferences — except for one: the annual meeting of the California Math Council (Northern Section.) Once again, I had a great day at Asilomar, a beautiful spot near Monterey, right on the Pacific Ocean. Here is my annual report. Conic Sections Figuring out an approach to… Continue reading Asilomar Report: Conic Sections

## Towards Inquiry

When I was much younger, I was under the impression that anything students “discover”, they will remember. Over time, I realized that this is not really true. First of all, what I hope they discovered may not be what they actually understand. But also, it’s not clear to them what is important about their discovery,… Continue reading Towards Inquiry

## Teaching the Distributive Property

A guest post by Rachel Chou I have been a classroom mathematics teacher for 20 years.  I have heard students use the phrase “the distributive property” more times than I can count.  Many of them misunderstand what “the distributive property” even is.  But maybe I think that because I don’t really know what “the distributive property”… Continue reading Teaching the Distributive Property

## Freakonomics Radio on Math Curriculum

Every now and then, an academic decides they’re qualified to fundamentally rethink math education, and to share their brilliant solution with the world. That is already problematic when the academic is a mathematician or a math education researcher, but it is even worse when it is someone whose only connection to K-12 math education is that… Continue reading Freakonomics Radio on Math Curriculum

## Remembering Lew Douglas

(Post updated on 19 Jan 2020.) The Bay Area Math Project and the Alameda Contra Costa County Math Educators presented Lessons from Lew, a professional development session in memory of Lew Douglas,  a leading Bay Area math educator who passed away in April. Lew delighted in math and developed lessons to allow others to share in that wonder. We… Continue reading Remembering Lew Douglas

## Retakes vs. Test Corrections vs. Neither

Both in person and online, a common topic of discussion among math teachers is the question of “retakes”. Under what conditions should students be allowed to have another chance at taking a test? How does the retake affect the grade? This is an important conversation. Different opinions reflect different values, different attitudes towards assessment, and different… Continue reading Retakes vs. Test Corrections vs. Neither

## Learning from Teaching (cont.)

For the second time this summer, I taught a version of my Visual Algebra workshop, this time as part of a summer institute at the Atrium School near Boston. (Earlier in the summer, I did this at Synapse School, in Silicon Valley, and wrote about it here.) Once again, I walked away from the workshop… Continue reading Learning from Teaching (cont.)

## Taking Notes vs. Doing Math

Some time ago, during a professional development workshop, a participant asked how I teach students to take notes in math class. I explained that I didn’t think students can simultaneously do math, and take notes. It’s really one or the other. The teacher gave me a contemptuous look that made clear she disapproved of my answer. Later in the… Continue reading Taking Notes vs. Doing Math

## Learning from Teaching

Now that I’m retired from the classroom, summer tends to be my busy time. I just taught the grades 6-9 version of my Visual Algebra workshop. There were quite a few familiar faces among the participants. Some had seen me present at the Asilomar (California Math Council) conference, others at NCTM, yet others at a… Continue reading Learning from Teaching