Math is a building block for the sciences. It is through numbers and operations that we explain natural phenomena and engineering and medical accomplishments.
Meteorology concepts are introduced to students in biology and environmental science classes. But why should they have all the fun?
Combining math with climate and weather science is a great way to achieve cross-curricular enrichment. Here are some excellent online resources to challenge and enlighten!
- The Severe Storms Laboratory, a component of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers free lesson plans for teaching math and weather-related topics. GoGeometry aggregates these lesson plans into an Interactive Mind Map.
- The PBS Mathline program has math problems and teaching ideas for combining math and meteorology. Topics include finding wind chill and rainfall measures.
- Scholastic has an Extreme Weather Math Hunt, where students are given factual graphs from around the web to help them answer math questions about weather.
What do you think of these resources? Do you have suggestions for combining math and weather studies?
is a time-honored tradition. High quality children’s literature can introduce and contextualize math concepts effectively.
More and more children's publishers want to bring storytelling, illustration, and math together. Even some of the genre’s classics are wonderful tools to bring math to a young audience.
Renowned math educator Marilyn Burns will be hosting a free webinar - Using Children's Literature to Teach Math - on November 15 at 3:30 p.m. eastern standard time.
Math Reads is a set of book collections and lessons for K-5 students full of fun stories which bolster math skills. By engaging students with these books, learning math concepts is fun and come naturally as part of the stories. The lessons are connected to the Common Core State Standards, focusing on critical concepts and skills for each grade.
In addition to Math Reads, do you remember these classics?
Beautiful illustrations explain different quantities in terms that young people can easily understand. For example, a billion children standing on each others’ shoulders would reach the moon. (Except for the whole breathing in space problem.) The appendix explains all the calculations... in case you don't believe that something is a million.
- Math Curse by David Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith.
This fun and quirky children's book is about a student who can't figure out math problems. Luckily, these very problems are featured in the book so the reader can help the cursed student.
One of my favorites! Rhythmic poetry, enticing illustrations, and counting the coolest creatures you ever saw.
If you have suggestions for teaching math through literature, please share them here!
Today’s guest blogger is Carolyn Felux, Director of Education for Math Solutions, a longtime educator and an expert in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. In this post she shares a list of resources that helped her dig deep into the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. Hopefully you’ll find them useful as well! This post originally appeared in On Our Minds @ Scholastic.
I remember sometime in the fall of 2010, I launched into my study of the Common Core. With colleagues at Math Solutions, we decided the place to start was with the Mathematical Practices, listed below.
Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Standard 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Standard 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Standard 4: Model with mathematics
Standard 5: Use appropriate tools strategically
Standard 6: Attend to precision
Standard 7: Look for and make use of structure
Standard 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
These mathematical practices describe the expertise and habits of mind that we should develop in students over the course of their K-12 study of mathematics.
My first encounter of the practices was with an abbreviated version, similar to those listed here. I remember feeling pretty comfortable that I knew something about these . . . until I began to study the expanded version of each practice. There was much more to each standard than these short versions convey. Elaborations for each of the practices can be found on the Common Core State Standards website (page 6). It was when I began to study the elaborations of each mathematical practice that I knew I’d need to call on colleagues and other resources to help me make sense of it.
I’ve included a few questions that have guided my study and a few resources I found helpful.
- What does each mathematical practice mean?
I am still working on making meaning but have made progress because of willing colleagues who will share their thinking, experience and resources. Here are a couple of links that have been especially helpful to me.
Core Standards.org: This site has the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and Standards for Mathematical practice. Elaborations of the practice standards can be found here.
MathSolutions.com: I am proud to say colleagues contributed to a collection of videos on our site called “Explain It to Me Videos.” These provide a brief video introduction to the Standards for Mathematical practice and the big ideas behind each of the eight practices. A new feature on our website that started in October is a focus on each Mathematical Practice. Check this link to see the Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- What is my role as the teacher in supporting students to develop these ways of thinking?
I bumped into an interesting resource as I was preparing for this blog. I don’t know who developed the resource linked below, but I found it a nice place to start in thinking more specifically about what students proficient with a particular practice might be doing along with what I, as the teacher, might be doing to support their development with that practice. There is no authorship identified, but by posting, hopefully we can find out.
As a mathematics teacher, I choose experiences that will help students build their content understanding and proficiency, as well as their mathematical habits of mind. I find examples are helpful to me when I am in the process of learning something new and making sense of it. The Inside Mathematics site has helped me by taking me into the classrooms of other teachers. Via video, I can see how another teacher approaches the content and the mathematical practices. This is a site that is aligning its abundant resources to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
- How do I connect the mathematical practices to the mathematics content standards?
This is work that everyone must do to weave these two aspects of mathematics into a cohesive support for student learning. One resource that could be helpful was developed by the Arizona Department of Education. On that site you will find the mathematics content standards at each grade and the mathematical practice or practices that can be developed at the same time.
I hope you find these resources useful. Let us know of other sites you have found in your journey to understand and implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
(Flickr photo by adactio)
Most of us know sudoku
, a sort of mathematical crosswords puzzle that has a goal of arranging numbers in a 9 x 9 grid so that each row, column, and 3x sub grid each contain a number 1 through 9.
However, many of us have not heard of ken-ken
, or futoshika
Playing these games is often done by adults with the goal of maintaining mental acuity. However, if played by children, these games may be able to help develop thinking skills that will help in mathematical ability. Perhaps most importantly, pen and paper math games are educational tools that doesn't feel like homework – so students may be self-motivated to complete the game. For the skeptical, take a look at this 2011 study from the Journal of Mathematics Education which outlines how to incorporate sudoku in math education with the Common Core State Standards in mind.
A great classroom activity could involve students independently working on one of these puzzles at the beginning of class, or as a supplementary homework assignment. Alternately, it can be a useful activity for students to help fight summer slide.
Scholastic offers a variety of educational resources based around pen and paper math games. Super Suduko Math: Fractions and Decimals offers reproducible worksheets focusing on suduko with the goal of teaching fractions and decimals. Super Suduko Math also makes a multiplication and division version, as well as an addition and subtraction version.
Have you used sudoku or other pen and paper based math games as a supplement in primary math instruction? Do you feel that this is an effective tool for increasing math and number sense?
When students are underperforming in math, teachers start the intervention process by asking them, “Why?”
Many teachers want feedback, formally or informally, from their students. And according to a new article in Teaching Children Mathematics, the role of diagnostic interviews as a form of math intervention has been shown to be effective.
One-on-one meetings between a student and a teacher can help to determine what teaching techniques work best. The article points out that this approach is not about evaluating the student or teacher, but an opportunity to let the student speak. While diagnostic interviews may include an assessment of a student’s academic level, the goal is to discover the deficiency and the reason for it.
For help developing a diagnostic program that can be applied in your classroom, refer to: How Do My Students Think: Diagnosing Student Thinking published by the American Psychological Association. Scholastic offers information about incorporating diagnostic Interviews into math assessment as part of the Math Reasoning Inventory.
Have diagnostic interviews worked in your experience? How can they best be implemented in schools where personalized lesson plans and individualized assessments are more challenging to create?
Share your thoughts below.
Danica McKeller graduated summa cum laude
in mathematics from UCLA…
Before she was co-author of the research that proved the Chayes-McKeller-Winn Theorem, and…
Before she wrote five books about math education,...
McKeller played girl-next-door Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years.
Though no longer a teen star, McKeller has continued her acting career while being a non-stop advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.
A major part of McKeller's mission is to close the gender gap in STEM fields. Some young women think that working in STEM fields is a guys-only vocation, and McKeller is challenging that view. As McKeller said in a recent interview with the Washington Post, “You don’t have to choose between being the fun, fabulous girl and being the smart girl who knows what’s up, you can do both. That’s my big message.”
You can listen to McKeller discuss her latest book “Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape” in an interview she did with NPR in August.
Just to prove you don't need to choose between math and fun, McKeller is still active in Hollywood, most recently starring in the comedy Mancation. You can follow her on twitter @danicamckellar,where she frequently tweets about STEM topics.
Can you think of other role models for girls and young women pursuing STEM-related careers? They don't need to be actresses, but it is okay if they are. Share your thoughts below.
"Why do I need to know this?" Almost every teacher has heard this cringe-worthy statement from a student who isn’t interested in the subject matter. While there are countless benefits to leaning math, it turns out there another reason that students need to master basic skills.
According to a new study by Robert S. Siegler and other researchers, a student’s success in upper level mathematics can be predicted based on their aptitude with fractions and long division in elementary school. The study controlled for I.Q., family income, gender, and a range of other factors. Across all controls groups, a student’s mastery of fractions and long division early-on led to an increased ability to master upper level mathematics in their secondary education. In other words, a student who does well with fractions and long division in elementary school is more likely to do will with calculus in high school, regardless of their background or overall intelligence.
So, next time a student asks you why it is important to learn about fractions or long division, you have a simple answer: today’s basic conceptual understanding will make it easier when the math gets a lot harder!
Why does mastery of fractions and long division equate to success in high school math? Does the application of problem solving techniques, such as finding the least common denominator, help the brain develop a mathematical knack early on? Or maybe frustration at an early age in mathematics turns them off to future interest in the subject. Why does this happen? Share your thoughts and experiences about the relationship between fundamentals and advanced concepts in math education.
Family Math Night is a concept that essentially mixes math practice with family game night. The goal is to practice math in a stress-free environment by bringing the family together to play math games one day a week (or month, or whatever works for your family).
It’s also a great time for family to get together. Just as family game night is about more than winning a board game, Family Math Night is about more than fractions.
By learning while having fun, children may be able to avoid math anxiety. Additionally, since children often spend a lot of time with family during the summer, Family Math Night may help to prevent summer brain drain.
There are a variety of online resources to help develop Family Math Night. Rock Round School District in Texas offers a free site of family games involving math. Scholastic offers a variety of fun activities for parents to play with their children, many of which can be used for Family Math Night.
Teachers can also organize Family Math Nights. This is a great opportunity to introduce families to one another and bridges school and home life. Gardner Pilot School in Massachusetts successfully implemented this approach, working with Harvard’s School of Education.
Have you organized a Family Math Night? Has it helped your students with math? Is it fun? Leave some ideas for fun math games or suggestions for making the night fun for the whole family.
Role models can help students think about possibilities and define goals. Students are willing to try harder and persevere if they can connect to interesting people doing great work. Recently, the media has thrown a spotlight on accomplished figures in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The “NASA Mohawk Guy” has become a media sensation with his rocker-style in a profession with a straight-laced reputation. His real name is Bobak Ferdowski, and he is a flight director at NASA. His twitter account has grown from under 200 before the Mars Curiosity rover landing on August 5th to over 50,000 followers as of August 20th. As a young, social media-savvy guy with changing hairstyles, not to mention part of the team that sent a rover to Mars, Bobak is one of the coolest scientists around – and potentially a great role model for aspiring young STEM achievers.
There are lots of websites profiling success stories in STEM professions. The Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC) hosts a website called Great Minds in STEM, offering profiles of dozens of Latino/a success stories in STEM industries.
100 Woman Leaders in STEM, offers in depth profiles for success stories that may be useful to motivate girls to excel in STEM studies. Sally Ride’s recent passing reminds us of the important of women’s leadership for young science and math learners.
What have your experiences been with the role of professional examples in education? Have you had any successful role models visit the classroom to provide an incentive for learning?
Share your experiences!
Baseball, perhaps more than any other major sport, is a game of numbers
. The sheer number of games (162 in the major league schedule) leads to a large amount of statistical information. Students who understand baseball better than math may understand many mathematical concepts without realizing it. For these students, harnessing the connection between baseball math and classroom math topics can prove to be an effective teaching strategy.
While the applications among younger grades are straightforward (batting averages equate with fractions, etc.), it is in high school that the real interesting connections can be made. The field of sabermetrics involves advanced statistical interpretations of baseball. As a result of sabermetrics, new baseball statistics have been created, statistics that are far more complex than earned run average (ERA) or batting average. This includes statistics such as WAR (wins above replacement), WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and the Pythagorean Expectation Statistic (used to predict a team’s performance over a season). The generation of these formulas is an engaging way to teach algebra. The use of sabermetrics in baseball is the foundation behind the best-selling book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which was also made into a movie starring Brad Pitt.
Baseball can be used to teach statistics. One of the primary applications of sabermetric data is the comparison between players between different eras. Was Barry Bonds a better homerun hitter than Babe Ruth? The answer is that it depends on how you consider the question. Barry Bonds had the most home runs in his career as well as the most home runs in a single season ever. However, his achievement is less than Babe Ruth in terms of his t-score ranking. In other words, the Babe Ruth was more standard deviations above the median home run totals for the era he played in than was Barry Bonds.
There are games online that emulate baseball based on mathematical algorithms. Whatifsports.com is a “historic fantasy sports website” that allows competitive play based on baseball player’s performance history, with statistics “normalized” to average performance. Sabermetrics are utilized extensively in fantasy baseball. In an advanced baseball math lesson, students would be expected to justify their drafting and roster moves in statistical terms. Since this is a fun activity and baseball is primarily a summer game, this is a great method to keep students thinking about math while on break, and could help fight academic summer slide.
An earlier Math Hub blog looked at the connection between math and baseball as focused on elementary education. Could we extend the use of baseball to middle and high school algebra and statistics lessons? Share your thoughts here.