This Week in Math Ed: May 20, 2016

Math Ed Said

May 13: The first time I saw "WODB" (Which One Doesn't Belong?) mentioned on Twitter, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. But when you see it in action, skillfully facilitated, you get it. Tracy Zager shared with us "Straight but Wiggled," in which a bunch of first graders make sense of ideas like "diamond," "straight," and "vertiwiggle." If you're familiar with Paul Cobb et al.'s work on the emergence of sociomathematical norms in classroom group activity, it makes it extra interesting to see what happens here.

Shared by: Tracy Johnston Zager, Ilona Vashchyshyn, Bridget Dunbar, Malke Rosenfeld, Kent Haines, Simon Gregg, David Butler, Mark Chubb, John Golden, A. O. Fradkin, Bryan Anderson, Laura Wagenman, Pat Power

May 14: If you're looking for Ignite talks from the 2016 NCTM Annual Meeting, or prior meetings, you can find them at The Math Forum.

Shared by: Suzanne Alejandre, Peg Cagle, The Math Forum, Tracy Johnston Zager, Amie Albrecht

May 15: It's a return appearance for the Ontario Math Links, this time for the week ending May 13th, 2016.

Shared by: David Petro, Mary Bourassa, Matthew Oldridge, Kyle Pearce, Jon Orr, Ryan Smith, Cathy Yenca

May 16: Jon Orr describes "Double Clothesline – Solving Equations," a very nice approach to understanding solving equations. Instead of a balance or algebra tiles, this uses double number lines in a way that gives more focus to the quantitites, rather than choosing or performing operations.

Shared by: Jon Orr, Shelley Carranza, Kyle Pearce, David Petro, Alex Overwijk, Pam Wilson, Lisa Lunney Borden, John Gibson

Dan Meyer
May 17: Dan Meyer is thinking about the informal that supports the formal understanding, which he illustrates in the post "Blue Point Rule." This is familiar territory for those of us who study Realistic Mathematics Education and its approach of progressive formalization. RME uses the terms "informal," "preformal," and "formal," and what Dan's wrestling with is what I'd call the "preformal" in RME. It's important that we call it out because it's really tough to make that last transition from a preformal model or conception to the use of a formal equation or rule. Dan's collecting "Before I ask for (Formal X), I ask for (Informal Y)" statements, some of which hint at common models used in RME.

Shared by: Dan Meyer, Bridget Dunbar, Jon Orr, Imtiaz Damji, Chris Mueller, Carrie Diaz Eaton, Mark Chubb, Nancy Terry, Jamie Duncan, Michael Fenton, Eddi Vulić, Rob Horcher, Missy Stringham, Levi Patrick, Rob Horcher, Jessica Faurote, Regan Galvan, Tim McCaffrey, Martin Joyce

May 18: There were 14 more shares of Dan's "Blue Point Rule" post, but I didn't want that post to completely overshadow this post by Matt Larson, which also got (re)tweeted a lot on the 17th and 18th. "NCTM Is Its Members" talks about NCTM understanding the needs of its members and what they're doing to meet them. I'm pretty excited about some of the directions NCTM is going, and they're moving a bit faster than I expected when I was thinking about these issues a while back. If you have feedback and ideas for Matt and NCTM, be sure to go to the post and leave them. You can see what other people have said and Matt's replies, and it looks like a pretty good discussion so far.

Matt Larson

Shared by: Lisa Henry, Amanda Jansen, TCM - NCTM, NCTM, NCTM - MT, April Pforts, UNL NebraskaMATH

May 19: The Chalkbeat story "How one Tennessee school district is getting students excited about math" describes number talks in a 1st grade classroom.

Shared by: John Golden, Melissa Soto, Donna Boucher, NCTM, Gary Petko

Around the Math Ed Web

A few more links popped up this week that I think are too good to pass up:
I'm eager to listen to Sam Otten's podcast with Thomas Carpenter. The episode is 28 minutes long and if I had 28 minutes to talk with Tom Carpenter, I probably wouldn't get past 1970. I'm guessing Sam did better than that.

In the Global Math Department last week, Tracy Zager gave a talk called, "How Do They Relate? Teaching Students to Make Mathematical Connections." Next week, Yana Weinstein and Cindy Wooldridge will talk about "Improving Math Education with Interleaved Problems by Global Math Department."

Deadlines: NCSM Annual on June 1 and RUME on August 19th and December 2nd (for posters).

Research Notes

The June 2016 issue of ZDM has arrived, with the theme Cognitive Neuroscience and Mathematics Learning — Revisited After Five Years:
I see one math article was just added to the August 2016 issue of Teaching and Teacher Education:
There's also a new issue of the Mathematics Education Research Journal:
New in AERA Open:
I don't watch Urban Education on a week-to-week basis for math ed articles, but recently a few caught my eye, so here's what I found published either this year or in upcoming issues:

Math Ed in the News

Do you remember that thing I put in last week's news section? No, you didn't, because there wasn't a news section! Somehow it slipped by unnoticed. But here's some news for you this week:

Math Ed in Colorado

The highlight of my week was attending the Colorado Mathematics Awards at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion in Denver. Organized by Richard Gibbs, David Carlson, and the CMA steering committee, this event recognizes students for outstanding performance in MATHCOUNTS, the American Mathematics Contents 8, 10, and 12, Moody's Mega Math Challenge, the USA Mathematics Olympiads, the American Regions Mathematics League, the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the International Contest in Modeling, the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling, and some teaching awards. Whew, did I remember them all? It was great to see students ages middle school through college all being recognized for their outstanding work, and the fact that Colorado has a special event that brings all these people together is really something to be proud of.

The packed house at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion for the 2016 Colorado Mathematics Awards

While it was great to join everyone in this event in its 21st year, I think a big challenge going forward is to make sure opportunities to participate on math teams and in math competitions gets spread across all of Colorado. As a former MATHCOUNTS kid from a 5200-person rural town in Iowa, I noticed that most of the awardees were students from large, high-SES schools on the Front Range. I realize I only saw the winners, not all the participants, but the small-towner in me would love to see some students there representing places like Gunnison, Ordway, and Walden. Geographic diversity is one of a number of struggles concerning math competitions, so if you'd like to expand the opportunity to participate in math competitions at your school, let me know and I'll see if I can get you connected to people who can help.

In the News:
PD opportunities:
Job openings:
  • Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, CO, needs a math teacher for grades 9-12. At this time, the schedule includes Algebra 1 and several honors classes, including Precalculus. Bailey is a beautiful, small mountain community about an hour southwest of Denver and PCHS enrolls about 300 students. Class sizes are in the twenties or lower. Please apply to
  • Lake County School District in Leadville is looking for a 7th and 8th grade math teacher. If you are interested in joining a math department that combines Jo Boaler's work with Expeditionary Learning while living in a small town in the mountains, this job is for you. More information and an application can be found at their website. (Update 5/23: Position filled!)