I’ve learned much of what I know about teaching from colleagues, but when I started teaching high school, there is one book that I found extremely helpful: Every Minute Counts, by David R. Johnson (1982, Dale Seymour Publications, with great illustrations by cartoonist John Johnson). In the 37 years since the book's publication, society has… Continue reading Every Minute Counts
In a recent post, I discussed story tables, mostly in the context of teaching about functions in high school, and as a springboard to discuss priorities in tool selection. I first heard about story tables from Shira Helft, who I believe was the first to appreciate the power of that representation. Today, a conversation with Shira.… Continue reading Story Tables in Middle School
I taught high school math for 32 years, Algebra 1 to Calculus, plus a few electives. In this post, I will summarize my department's approach to trigonometry. When I started there, we had a one-term trigonometry course, which became more engaging and comprehensible when we started using the now out-of-print Trigonometry: A Guided Inquiry by Chakerian,… Continue reading Teaching Trig
In my last post, I shared notes from the California Math Council meeting last weekend. I focused on a couple of talks about the use of technology (Asilomar Notes: Tech). Today I write about a different sort of tool, the story table. Shira Helft and Taryn Pritchard’s Asilomar workshop introduced us to this powerful representation of algebraic expressions,… Continue reading Asilomar Notes: Story Tables
This is a guest post by Rachel Chou, Math Department Chair at Menlo School in Silicon Valley. I wrote about this topic on my Web site, under the title Hyper-Acceleration. You’ll see that Rachel addresses a particularly acute version of this problem, given the fact that she is in a private school in a region where… Continue reading On the desire to push kids ahead
Last summer, I wrote a post about catchphrases for math teachers. Some of those were created by other people, but most were my own. It was a fun way to think about what ideas I consider important enough to summarize in a hopefully memorable slogan. Since then, I have remembered three more of my mantras, which are mostly aimed… Continue reading More Catchphrases
In most math curricula, students work on a single topic at a time. (When I taught elementary school, decades ago, I noticed that if we’re working on subtraction, it must be November! But the same applies at all grade levels.) The idea is that is that by really focusing on the topic, you are helping students really… Continue reading Spiraling Out of Control?
I have written quite a few posts in which I argued that extending student exposure to mathematical concepts is one key to reaching the whole range of students. This is based on the simple observation that students learn math at different rates, and that extending exposure by making simple changes to our routines can benefit… Continue reading More on Extending Exposure
It is not uncommon to read articles about math education in the mainstream press, arguing that students must master basic skills before they can develop conceptual understanding. And moreover, that the road to such mastery is teacher explanation followed by repetitive drill. These essays frequently argue that it’s like learning to play the piano: you must… Continue reading Understanding "understanding"
I’m done with my summer workshops, and I hope to resume blogging when the inspiration strikes. Today, a brief post about catchphrases, one per paragraph. (And no, this is not because this word has six consecutive consonants, which may well be a record.) I started thinking about this topic when I learned that Annie Fetter's catchphrase “What do… Continue reading Catchphrases