Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Pickle

There are some interesting new websites out there. One is called Math Pickle. Shannon Walters, C.P. Smith Library Guru, alerted me to this one. So far, I like most of what I’ve seen on this site, although the layout is a bit clunky. Dr. Gordon Hamilton presents activities for students based on math problems dating back several decades to mathematicians like Issai Schur and Lothar Collatz. His decision to put young Vi Hart on the same page as some of the older mathematics greats is a good sign. Math activities are presented via video, and include footage of real students. I’m less impressed with Dr. Hamilton’s philosophizing about the way math should be taught in a video entitled “Let’s Abolish Elementary Mathematics”, even though I agree with most of what he is saying.

I like the Graceful Tree Conjecture as a means of practicing subtraction with third graders and the Collatz Conjecture for fourth graders. These are captivating problem-solving activities which are an excellent way to encourage students to work together, discuss different strategies, practice skills, check their work, and have fun. I would also try the magic cauldrons addition game for second graders. Teachers will find Math Pickle a useful site for finding new activities for math class and getting a thorough explanation of how to use them.