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

Saskatchewan Math Photo Challenge: October

“What if I told you that you don’t have to sail across an ocean or fly into space to discover the wonders of the world? They are right here, intertwined with our present reality.”
E. Frankel,
Love & Math

Inspired by this summer’s Math Photo Challenge (see the official website or the #mathphoto16 hashtag on Twitter), which revealedthrough hundreds of submitted photosthe (mathematical) wonders all around us, we are excited to continue the fun with our very own Saskatchewan Math Photo Challenge.

Every month, we will choose a mathematical theme for you to explore in your photos. Keep your eyes peeled as you work and play, take pictures of what you find, and share them on Twitter or Instagram using the #skmathphoto and current theme hashtags. See all photos submitted to the challenge at http://smts.ca/skmathphoto/. At the end of the month, we will feature a few of our favorites in our periodical, The Variable! Participation is not limited to math teachers, so encourage your friends, family, and students to play along!

Without further ado, this month’s theme is…

2016-october-scale

The Variable – Volume 1, Issue 6

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the-variable-2016-september-cover-toc

Volume 1, Issue 6 of The Variable has just been released! From purposeful practice to using Desmos and Geometer’s Sketchpad for student exploration , this issue – with contributions from educators across the continent – is packed full of ideas for your math 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: A Summer of Math – Waterloo Math Conference Reflections

Reflections is a monthly column for teachers, by teachers on topics of interest to mathematics educators: lesson plans, book/resource reviews, reflections on classroom experiences, 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.


A Summer of Math: Waterloo Math Conference Reflections
Amanda Culver

Most math enthusiasts have heard of the University of Waterloo—it’s the math place to be in Canada. Last month, I was lucky enough to attend—for the second time in three years—their annual Math Teachers’ Conference.

The conference consists of two and a half days of sessions, where participants are fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner and can stay in campus residence (free of charge, with registration). Sessions are led by both professors and teachers, and topics vary widely, from drawing Metamobius surfaces, to applications of mathematics, to problem solving, and more. Continue reading

Intersections (September edition): Upcoming professional development opportunities

In this monthly column, you’ll find information about upcoming math education-related workshops, conferences, and other events. If travel is not an option at this time or if you prefer learning from the comfort of your own home, see the Online workshops and Continuous learning online sections below. 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 know about an event that should be on our list, please leave a comment below or contact us at ilona@smts.ca.

Jump to:
Within Saskatchewan
Beyond Saskatchewan

Online workshops and seminars

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.

Interested in presenting? The planning committee is seeking 60-minute presentations on topics related to the teaching and learning of mathematics. Presenters will be provided with one free conference registration per session. Submit your proposal on our website by September 16, 2016. Continue reading

Spotlight on the Profession: Max Ray-Riek

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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 Max Ray-Riek, who will be presenting at this year’s Saskatchewan Understands Mathematics (SUM) Conference in Saskatoon.


Max Ray-Riek

Max Ray-Riek works at The Math Forum at NCTM and is the author of the book Powerful Problem Solving. He is a former secondary mathematics teacher who has presented at regional and national conferences on fostering problem solving and communication and valuing student thinking.

 

 


I would like to start off by asking you a bit about your background and your interest in mathematics. Was it a subject that you always enjoyed, or did something – or someone – hook you along the way? What drew you to teaching secondary mathematics rather than, say, research in mathematics?

“There’s so much being figured out right now about how math can be taught as a dynamic, engaging subject where everyone has unique ideas that matter… One of the most exciting problems facing the world today is how to teach math in a way that builds on students sharing their ideas.”

I knew I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember – I was one of those kids who played school with my stuffed animals and pretended I was teaching all the time. My mom taught pre-school and kindergarten, and when I was old enough to read chapter books I devoured books that told teaching stories, like You Can’t Say You Can’t Play or Wally’s Stories by Vivian Gussin Paley. But I didn’t think I wanted to be a math teacher until my sophomore year of college (not that my decision to become a math teacher surprised any of my own math teachers, like Lois Burke, @lbburke on Twitter – she was my Algebra II teacher and now a cherished colleague!).

I had started off as a discouraged math student, fearing long packets of arithmetic problems that I was neither fast nor accurate with. I was lucky enough to have a 5th grade teacher, Ms. Allen, recognize that I enjoyed puzzles, problem solving, and thinking outside the box, and she invited me to try out some Math Olympiad problems. Even though I couldn’t solve a single one on my first try, she invited me to share the approach I’d used to start thinking about one of the problems, and that was when I realized that I could have math ideas that mattered to other people. From then on I was interested in math, and enjoyed doing math and talking about math thinking with other people. When I got to college, I realized that this was actually one of the most exciting areas to teach in, because there’s so much being figured out right now about how math can be taught as a dynamic, engaging subject where everyone has unique math ideas that matter. Reading math education research by people like Alan Schoenfeld, Jo Boaler, Ana Sfard, Paul Cobb, Jean Lave, and others helped me see that one of the most exciting problems facing the world today is how to teach math in a way that builds on students sharing their ideas.

  Continue reading

Saskatchewan Math Photo Challenge: September

“What if I told you that you don’t have to sail across an ocean or fly into space to discover the wonders of the world? They are right here, intertwined with our present reality.”
E. Frankel,
Love & Math

Inspired by this summer’s Math Photo Challenge (see the official website or the #mathphoto16 hashtag on Twitter), which revealedthrough hundreds of submitted photosthe (mathematical) wonders all around us, we are excited to continue the fun with our very own Saskatchewan Math Photo Challenge.

Every month, we will choose a mathematical theme for you to explore in your photos. Keep your eyes peeled as you work and play, take pictures of what you find, and share them on Twitter or Instagram using the #skmathphoto and current theme hashtags. See all photos submitted to the challenge at http://smts.ca/skmathphoto/. At the end of the month, we will feature a few of our favorites in our periodical, The Variable! Participation is not limited to math teachers, so encourage your friends, family, and students to play along!

Without further ado, this month’s theme is…

2016 September - Patterns

Problems to Ponder (September edition)

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Problems to Ponder! Pose them in your classroom as a challenge, and try them out yourself. Have an interesting solution? Send it to thevariable@smts.ca for publication in a future issue of The Variable, our monthly periodical.

Picture1

Practice need not be mindless. This month’s problems were chosen for their potential to engage students in the practice of a variety of basic skills while at the same time encouraging the mathematical practices of pattern-seeking, working systematically, generalizing, posing interesting questions, and more. Several of the problems have a very high ceiling!

Keep in mind that the particular numbers used in the problems can be changed to suit students’ skill levels. Continue reading