Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fly with math

This is my new favorite TED Talk. It's called Vijay Kumar: Robots that fly...and cooperate. It is one of the best I’ve seen. UPenn researchers have created mini helicopters so elegantly programmed that they function autonomously and can work together. You must watch the entire 16 minutes. Use this to inspire and motivate students, and to help keep math relevant.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Plus Ten, Plus One

Here’s a simple question: What is ten more than 73?

Based on students’ responses, we learn something about their understanding of place value and our base ten number system. They might know it right away. They might have no idea and no strategy for figuring it out. They might want a paper and pencil in order to use a written algorithm, or they might count on their fingers. If their response isn’t quick and correct, they are poised to make an important conceptual leap.

There are many tools to help students understand place value and base ten. These include arrow cards, hundred charts, ten frames, and more. Here is a favorite from Sandi Stanhope and Loree Silvis. We’ve been using it in various classes and with individuals. It’s fast, easy, and you can carry it around in your back pocket (literally).

Rebekah Thomas, ELL and Math Teacher Extraordinaire and soon-to-be Vermont Mathematics Initiative graduate, shows you how here. Thank you, Rebekah!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sugar and Ice book review

Phia Smith, a fourth grade mathematician at John J. Flynn Elementary School, read the book, “Sugar and Ice” by Kate Messner. Our school librarian told us it had some math in the story, including Fibonacci numbers. Phia and I had been learning about Fibonacci numbers together, so it seemed like a perfect book for her to read. She gave me permission to publish her book review here.

Sugar and Ice is a story about a girl named Claire. Claire is a skater and a mathematician at heart. She has a skating coach named Mary Pat. Skating on a cow pond she entered a skating competition and was so good she got offered a scholarship to a really nice skating group by Andrei Grosheva. With some troubles along the way she comes to a decision of what dream to follow. Read the book to find out.

I think it is a very good book. I enjoyed the bits of Fibonacci and math in it. I think it deserves 4 ½ stars. - Phia