The Variable – Volume 1, Issue 8

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How might you increase participation and conversation in your math class using networked devices? How can the game of SET encourage mathematical habits of mind? What do “loose parts” have to do with learning mathematics? Explore this and many other questions in the latest issue of The Variable (and the last issue of 2016!), full of ideas for your classroom, 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: SUMming up SUM Conference 2016

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.


SUMming up SUM Conference 2016
Sharon Harvey

Well, I made it through my first Saskatchewan Understands Math (SUM) conference while being on the other side! The organizing side, that is. It is unbelievable how much work goes into making sure our SUM conference runs smoothly and delivers a fabulous experience for our attendees. So first, I want to thank the SMTS and the SUM Conference committee for organizing such a great event. And let me tell you—it was a great event!

So what makes our conference so great? (I know what you’re thinking: is she really going to write a whole column about how great the conference was that she helped organize? Yes. I am.) Continue reading

Spotlight on the Profession: Dr. Peter Liljedahl

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. Peter Liljedahl.


peter-liljedahlDr. Peter Liljedahl is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education and the Associate Dean Academic for the Office of Graduate Studies and Post-Doctoral Fellows at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.  Peter is a co-director of the David Wheeler Institute for Research in Mathematics Education, President of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, a senior editor for the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, and the coordinator of the Secondary Mathematics Master’s Program in the Faculty of Education at SFU. Peter is a former high school mathematics teacher who has kept his research interest and activities close to the classroom. He consults regularly with teachers, schools, school districts, and ministries of education on issues of teaching and learning, assessment, and numeracy.


First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to have this conversation. To start things off, could you discuss your current research interests and projects? How has your work kept you close to mathematics classrooms?

Almost all of my work is centred around improving the teaching and learning of mathematics. To this end, I work closely with practicing in-service mathematics teachers interested in improving their practice. At the same time, I do research on both the teaching and learning of mathematics and the professional growth of teachers of mathematics.

 

Some of your recent work has been centered around the notion of a “thinking classroom” (e.g., Liljedahl & Williams, 2014; Liljedahl, 2016b). How would you describe such a classroom? How can classroom norms and the classroom environment contribute, or detract from, a culture of thinking? Continue reading

Problems to Ponder (November edition)

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British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers

Welcome to the November 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 (November 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

Number Talks and Beyond: Building Math Communities Through Classroom Conversation
January 17, Regina, SK
Presented by the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit

Classroom discussion is a powerful tool for supporting student communication, sense-making and mathematical understanding. Curating productive math talk communities requires teachers to plan for and recognize opportunities in the live action of teaching. Come experience a variety of classroom numeracy routines including number talks, counting circles, quick images and more. Take math conversations to the next level by strengthening your skills as a facilitator of classroom discourse and student thinking. Continue reading

The Variable – Volume 1, Issue 7

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What math might you find in a necklace? How might you make room for play in your math classroom? Explore this and many other questions the latest issue of The Variable, full of ideas for your classroom, whether you teach in 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!

Spotlight on the Profession: Dr. Harley Weston

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. Harley Weston.


harley-westonHarley was born and raised in Southern Ontario and went to high school in Caledonia, where a Grade 10 teacher taught him geometry using Euclid as the text. This is where he was first introduced to the beauty and lure of mathematics. He received an undergraduate degree from McMaster University and a Masters and PhD from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1967, Harley and his wife Marianne moved to Regina, where they lived for almost 50 years. He taught in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics until his retirement in 2005. His research was in Point Set Topology for a few years, after which his interests turned to Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Modelling. Starting in about 1995, his academic interests changed again, this time to Mathematics Education. In 1992, he was awarded the University of Regina Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Undergraduate teaching, in 2007 the annual Education Prize from the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, and in 2008 the Adrien Pouliot Award from the Canadian Mathematical Society.

Harley and Marianne have two sons, three granddaughters, and two great granddaughters. They now live in the hamlet of Pasqua Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley.


Thank you for taking the time to have this conversation, Dr. Weston. I would like to start by asking you about your interest in mathematics education. Your background is in applied mathematics, and this was the focus of your research at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Regina from 1967 until 2005. However, you have also spent much time cultivating relationships between mathematicians, K-12 students, mathematics teachers, and Education faculty. In your view, why is it important to establish dialogue between these groups?

Thank you for inviting me to be part of this endeavour.

“I have always been passionate about the beauty and elegance of mathematics and have used my teaching as an attempt to transmit my love of mathematics and to help others glimpse the beauty that I see.”

When I arrived in Regina in 1967, my academic interest was in pure mathematics, and it wasn’t until about 1980 that I became interested in applied mathematics. I have always been passionate about the beauty and elegance of mathematics and have used my teaching as an attempt to transmit my love of mathematics and to help others glimpse the beauty that I see. At times, however, I have been frustrated by the fact that many people don’t share this view of mathematics or even appreciate how anyone could have this view. I think that part of the reason that so many people have a negative view of mathematics is due to the way that it is taught, and I felt that I had much to learn about mathematics teaching from my colleagues in mathematics education. Fortunately, at the University of Regina there was already a close working relationship between some of my colleagues in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and faculty in the Faculty of Education, so it was relatively easy for me to build on this. Continue reading

Reflections: That’s SUM Conference, Alright!

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.


That’s SUM Conference, Alright!
Sharon Harvey

I am currently serving my first year as treasurer of the Saskatchewan Math Teachers’ Society (SMTS). Over the past year, I have learned so much about what the SMTS is and what the SMTS does. I have also learned that some of you—our members and readers—have some misconceptions about the SMTS.

We started The Variable as one of the ways to address this. We wanted to make sure that you knew how to contact us, what we were working on, and to keep the lines of communication open with Saskatchewan teachers and learners of mathematics. And so, for this month’s edition of Reflections, I decided that I would take the time to address some of these misconceptions (myths) head-on. Hopefully, this will help to complete your picture of the SMTS, as it did mine! Continue reading

Intersections (October 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

Conferences

cropped-SMTS_Logo_RGB_noname.pngSaskatchewan Understands Math (SUM) Conference
November 4th – 5th, Saskatoon, SK
$135 (early bird), $160 (standard), $50 (undergraduate students)
Presented by the SMTS

Our own annual conference! The Saskatchewan Understands Math (SUM) conference is for math educators teaching in K-12 who are interested in curriculum, incorporating technology, number sense, and problem solving. Join us for two days packed with learning opportunities, featuring keynote speakers Max Ray-Riek of the Math Forum at NCTM and Grace Kelemanik of the Boston Teacher Residency Program. Registration includes lunch on Friday and a two-year SMTS membership. Click here for more information and to register.

Continue reading

Problems to Ponder (October edition)

BCAMTlogo

British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers

Welcome to the October 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.

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 will be 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.

Because I am currently using these tasks with my own classes (Grades 8-12) and it is the start of the year, I am sharing tasks that are my favorites for building a problem solving and collaborating culture with students; as such, some of these tasks may already be familiar to many of you.

I think it would be fun and more valuable for everyone if we shared our experiences with the tasks. Take pictures of students’ work and share how the tasks worked with your class through the BCAMT listserv [which currently connects nearly one thousand educators from across the province, country, and even the world! –Ed.] so that others may learn from your experiences.

I hope you and your class have fun with these tasks.

Michael Pruner

Intermediate and Secondary Tasks (Grades 4-12)

September 5, 2016

The Tax Collector
Start with a collection of paychecks from $1 to $12. You can choose any paycheck to keep. Once you choose, the tax collector gets all paychecks remaining that are factors of the number you chose. The tax collector must receive payment after every move. If you have no moves that give the tax collector a paycheck, then the game is over and the tax collector gets all the remaining paychecks.  The goal is to beat the tax collector. Continue reading