Problems to Ponder (May edition)

BCAMTlogo

British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers

Welcome to the May edition of Problems to Ponder! This month’s problems have been curated by Michael Pruner, president of the British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers (BCAMT). The tasks are released on a weekly basis through the BCAMT listserv, and are also shared via Twitter (@BCAMT) and on the BCAMT website. This post features only a subset of the problems shared by Michael last month – head to the BCAMT website for the full set!

Have an interesting solution? Send it to thevariable@smts.ca for publication in a future issue of The Variable, our monthly periodical.

I am calling these problems ‘competency tasks’ because they seem to fit quite nicely with the curricular competencies in the British Columbia revised curriculum. They are non-content based, so that all students should be able to get started and investigate by drawing pictures, making guesses, or asking questions. When possible, extensions are provided so that you can keep your students in flow during the activity. Although they may not fit under a specific topic for your course, the richness of the mathematics comes out when students explain their thinking or show creativity in their solution strategies. Continue reading

The Variable – Volume 2, Issue 3

From Kindergarten to Grade 12, there is something for everyone in this month’s issue of The Variable. In her article “Talking Points,” Heidi Neufeld describes a structure for engaging students of all ages in meaningful mathematical discourse; Jehu Peters explains in “Matching Tests” why handing back exams randomly is a bad idea, probabilistically speaking; and Colleen Haberern presents a rich problem-based task for middle school students based on TLC’s The Cake Boss in “The Cake Contest.”

You will also find our regular features, including “Spotlight on the Profession” (this month’s interview features Christopher Danielson, who offers a multitude of strategies for supporting children’s numeracy skills at home); “Reflections,” where Amanda Culver reflects on this year’s Extreme Math Challenge; “Intersections,” which will bring you up to date on upcoming professional development opportunities; and “Problems to Ponder,” where you will find a range of rich problems for K-12. Last but not least, we are proud to introduce “Math Ed Matters by MatthewMaddux,” a new column by Egan Chernoff: “slightly bent, untold, true stories of mathematics teaching and learning.” In this issue, Chernoff offers his perspective on the alleged decline of basic mathematics skills in “Subtraction: How the Hunted Became the Hunter.”

To access this month’s issue, head to http://smts.ca/the-variable/, where you will find this and all issues of The Variable free to download.

We hope you find this publication relevant and valuable for your teaching or personal interest – and if so, that you share it with your colleagues and invite them to join the conversation! If you have feedback, questions, or would like to contribute, we would love to hear from you – contact us at thevariable@smts.ca.

Intersections (May edition): Upcoming professional development opportunities

In this monthly column, you’ll find information about upcoming math education-related workshops, conferences, and other events. Some events fill up fast, so don’t delay signing up!

For more information about a particular event or to register, follow the link provided below the description. If you know about an event that should be on our list, please contact us at ilona@smts.ca.

Jump to:
Within Saskatchewan
Beyond Saskatchewan

Online workshops

Within Saskatchewan

Workshops

Using Tasks in Middle Years Mathematics
August 16, Saskatoon, SK
Presented by the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit

Using tasks in a middle years mathematics classroom can provide rich opportunities for differentiated learning and authentic assessment. How do we choose tasks that meet both curricular outcomes and student needs? Tasks allow students to enter mathematics where they are at and extend their learning. In this workshop we will look at a variety of resources for finding good middle years tasks. We will also reflect and discuss what planning and teaching moves can assist in maximizing student learning through mathematics tasks.

See https://www.stf.sk.ca/professional-resources/professional-growth/events-calendar/using-tasks-middle-years-mathematics-0 Continue reading

Spotlight on the Profession: Dr. Christopher Danielson

In this monthly column, we speak with a notable member of the mathematics education community about their work and their perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Christopher Danielson.


Christopher Danielson has worked with math learners of all ages—12-year-olds in his former middle school classroom, Calculus students, teachers, and young children and their families at Math On-A-Stick at the Minnesota State Fair. He designs curriculum at Desmos. He is the author of Common Core Math For Parents For Dummies, the shapes book Which One Doesn’t Belong?, and the forthcoming counting book How Many? He blogs about teaching on Overthinking My Teaching, and for parents at Talking Math with Your Kids.


First things first, thank you for taking the time for this conversation!

Besides teaching mathematics and curriculum development (at Normandale Community College and, most recently, at Desmos), one of your main interests is helping parents support their children’s mathematical development, as the title of your website Talking Math with Your Kids suggests.

As you write on the website, parents know that they should read with their children every day to support their literacy development, but are typically less familiar with strategies to cultivate numeracy. Why might this be the case? Continue reading

Reflections: Extreme Math Challenge 2017

Reflections is a monthly column for teachers, by teachers on topics of interest to mathematics educators: reflections on classroom experiences, professional development opportunities, resource reviews, and more. If you are interested in sharing your own ideas with mathematics educators in the province (and beyond), consider contributing to this column! Contact us at thevariable@smts.ca.


Extreme Math Challenge 2017
Amanda Culver

Between Walter Murray Collegiate and Centennial Collegiate, we host the Extreme Math Challenge and the Extreme Math Camp every year. On Saturday, March 18th, we launched our first full-day Extreme Math Challenge. In the past, this event was held after school. However, we always felt that our schedule was rushed and would have liked to have more time with students. And thus, the weekend Extreme Math Challenge was born. Continue reading

Problems to Ponder (March edition)

BCAMTlogo

British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers

Welcome to the March edition of Problems to Ponder! This month’s problems have been curated by Michael Pruner, president of the British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers (BCAMT). The tasks are released on a weekly basis through the BCAMT listserv, and are also shared via Twitter (@BCAMT) and on the BCAMT website. This post features only a subset of the problems shared by Michael last month – head to the BCAMT website for the full set!

Have an interesting solution? Send it to thevariable@smts.ca for publication in a future issue of The Variable, our monthly periodical.

I am calling these problems ‘competency tasks’ because they seem to fit quite nicely with the curricular competencies in the British Columbia revised curriculum. They are non-content based, so that all students should be able to get started and investigate by drawing pictures, making guesses, or asking questions. When possible, extensions are provided so that you can keep your students in flow during the activity. Although they may not fit under a specific topic for your course, the richness of the mathematics comes out when students explain their thinking or show creativity in their solution strategies. Continue reading

Intersections (March edition): Upcoming professional development opportunities

In this monthly column, you’ll find information about upcoming math education-related workshops, conferences, and other events. Some events fill up fast, so don’t delay signing up!

For more information about a particular event or to register, follow the link provided below the description. If you know about an event that should be on our list, please contact us at ilona@smts.ca.

Jump to:
Within Saskatchewan
Beyond Saskatchewan

Online workshops

Within Saskatchewan

Workshops

Using Tasks in Middle Years Mathematics
March 13, Saskatoon, SK
Presented by the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit

Using tasks in a middle years mathematics classroom can provide rich opportunities for differentiated learning and authentic assessment.

How do we choose tasks that meet both curricular outcomes and student needs? Tasks allow students to enter mathematics where they are at and extend their learning. In this workshop we will look at a variety of resources for finding good middle years tasks. We will also reflect and discuss what planning and teaching moves can assist in maximizing student learning through mathematics tasks. Continue reading

The Variable – Volume 2, Issue 2

How might you incorporate mathematical modeling in the high school curriculum? What do students say about problem-based learning? What happens when you turn a Pascal’s triangle upside down? Explore this and many other questions in the latest issue of The Variable, whether you teach Kindergarten or Grade 12. Head to http://smts.ca/the-variable/, where you will find this month’s and all previous issues free to access and to download.

As always, we hope you find this publication relevant and valuable for your teaching or personal interest – and if so, that you share it with your colleagues and invite them to join the conversation!

Reflections: Foundations 20 Introduction Tasks – Linear Inequalities and Statistical Reasoning

Reflections is a monthly column for teachers, by teachers on topics of interest to mathematics educators: reflections on classroom experiences, professional development opportunities, resource reviews, and more. If you are interested in sharing your own ideas with mathematics educators in the province (and beyond), consider contributing to this column! Contact us at thevariable@smts.ca.


Foundations 20 Introduction Tasks – Linear Inequalities and Statistical Reasoning
Sharon Harvey

I’ve taught Foundations of Mathematics 20 a few times, and each time I have found myself struggling with the disconnect between topics. At times, it feels as though the course is a dumping ground for concepts students should know, but that didn’t really fit anywhere else. And I notice that students struggle to remember concepts from the beginning of the course (that we do not use again after the unit) when it comes time to prepare for the final exam.

So I decided to look for opening tasks for units that would help introduce the main topic, perhaps shake up a little prior knowledge, and create memorable experiences that I could relate to when reviewing for the final exam.  Collaborating with Amanda Culver and Andrea Klassen, we came up with activities that we felt would work well. Today, I’m going to share two of my favorites with you. Continue reading

Spotlight on the Profession: Dr. Alayne Armstrong

In this monthly column, we speak with a notable member of the mathematics education community about their work and their perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Alayne Armstrong.


Alayne Armstrong joined the Faculty of Education of the University of Regina in July 2016 as an Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education. She completed her PhD in 2013 in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she was a SSHRC Doctoral Scholar. Her Masters and Bachelor of Education degrees were also obtained from UBC, and she has additional degrees from the University of Manitoba and Queen’s University. Prior to joining the University of Regina, Alayne was a classroom teacher in the Coquitlam School District in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and she also taught undergraduate education courses in math methods and inquiry at UBC. She is currently getting to know Regina and enjoying the friendly people, the pelicans and muskrats, and the big blue sky.


First things first, thank you for taking the time for this conversation!

As you had spent 19 years teaching in the K-12 public school system prior to joining the faculty at the University of Regina in the summer of 2016, your research undoubtedly draws from a wealth of experience in the classroom. Whose work influenced you during your time as a teacher? Then, which gap in the research, or which classroom experiences, urged you to transition into the domain of educational research? Continue reading