In my last post, I offered guidelines for sequencing math curriculum. The response I got on Twitter (and in one comment to the post) was quite positive. However, one point I made triggered some disagreement:Start with definitions? No! Most students find it difficult to understand a definition for something they have no experience with. It is more effective to start… Continue reading Vocabulary

# Tag: Teaching

## Sequencing

In my last post, I argued that, as teachers and math education leaders in a school or district, we need to free ourselves from the sequencing preordained by the textbook, and instead pay attention to what actually works with our students. In this post, I will present some general guidelines for sequencing topics, and some… Continue reading Sequencing

## Mind Maps

Alison Blank makes good points in her interesting presentation: "Math is not linear", where she encourages us to make connections, go on tangents, preview future topics and review past ones. In short, we should not be trapped in the inflexible sequence suggested by textbooks and school culture. In a recent blog post, Jim Tanton makes… Continue reading Mind Maps

## Handling Wrong Answers

In my previous post, I listed questions to use in class discussions, or in conversation with a student or a group of students. Today, I'll discuss how to handle wrong answers. This is complicated and there is no single correct answer for all situations. I'll start by clarifying my goals:broad participation by students in the… Continue reading Handling Wrong Answers

## Any Questions?

On the first weekend of December, the California Math Council held its annual meeting in Asilomar for the 60th time. (I attended for the 33rd time, and presented roughly the same talk I had presented in 1984.) Over the decades, the "must-attend" presenters have changed. Two of my favorites back in the day were Harold… Continue reading Any Questions?

## Puzzles for the Classroom

In my last post, I shared some generalities about puzzle creation. Today, I will zero in on the specifics of creating puzzles for the mathematics classroom. I will do this by way of analyzing some examples. Multiple PathsA characteristic of all classrooms is that they are constituted of students whose backgrounds and talents vary widely. … Continue reading Puzzles for the Classroom

## Puzzle Creation

John Golden asked whether I had written about my approach to puzzle creation. I've only written a brief post on the subject, five years ago. Yet I believe that my work as a curriculum developer is largely based on my involvement with puzzles: solving them, constructing them, editing them. Of course, puzzling is not the… Continue reading Puzzle Creation

## More on Geometric Construction

(To search from previous posts on this topic, use the Search box on the right.) I suspect that by far the most common introduction to geometric construction in US classrooms is a presentation by the teacher (or textbook) on various compass and straightedge construction techniques. "This is how you construct a perpendicular bisector. This is… Continue reading More on Geometric Construction

## Polyarcs

My early forays as a curriculum developer date back to my days as a K-5 math specialist in the 1970's. A key insight of my young self was that activities intended for students were that much more worthwhile if they were also interesting to me. I learned to view with suspicion activities that were boring… Continue reading Polyarcs

## Calculation

Many students have weak arithmetic skills. Many teachers blame this on calculator use, but it is just as likely that the real reason lies elsewhere. For one thing, the teaching of arithmetic traditionally does not involve developing any understanding, so the learning is shallow and fragile. For another, students correctly feel that mindless arithmetic is… Continue reading Calculation