## Thirteen Ways of Looking at Multiplication Tables

Looking for the surprising in the familiar, we see what happens when you look, really look, at the multiplication table and tumble through the looking glass.

I once taught a poem by Wallace Stevens called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” to a class of adult literacy students. Before I gave out the poem I put the title on the board and asked students what they thought the poem was going to be about. They had all kinds of ideas about looking at blackbirds. Then I asked them, “What about the first part? What does that mean Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird?”And they said things like:

• “Thirteen ways to understand the bird is better than one… but you have to take time to see the bird.”
• “If you look at the bird you will find all the different things it does, but you have to look closely.”
• “We don’t pay attention to these things and he wants us to focus.”
• “He stopped to pay attention to something so maybe we will too.”

## Mondrian Art Puzzle

CAMI plays around with a way to practice multiplication, think about area and extend into algebra and generalizations. Through art!

For our final CAMI meeting of 2017, I wanted to spend some time at a CAMI meeting doing some math that would create some thing visual and beautiful. As I was looking around for activities to bring to the group, I came across the website, Math Pickle (as in “Put your students in a pickle”). They had a trove of math problems that I look forward to exploring in future CAMI meetings. The one I chose for this one is at its core an opportunity for students to practice multiplication in a way that is much more engaging than just memorizing facts and doing worksheets. And it builds works of art. As I started to play around with it, I started to notice different ways to think about how to make designs with the best score. Continue reading “Mondrian Art Puzzle”

## Multiple Factors

Several engaging activities for exploring factors. Which would you use for HSE math classes and how would you use them?

I puzzled over what to bring to today’s meeting for days. I have a couple unfinished problems that I’ve been thinking to bring to a CAMI meeting, but in the end I chose to go with a few activities on factors, mostly from Fostering Algebraic Thinking, by Mark Driscoll. A group of us read the book last summer and loved the problems. There were so many good ones that we weren’t able to solve them all while reading the book. I went into this meeting hoping that the surprise of the central problem wouldn’t be ruined. Continue reading “Multiple Factors”

## Exploring Algebraic Thinking in a Math Teachers’ Circle

How to use an inquiry-based exploration of visual thinking to develop algebraic thinking in our adult numeracy and hse classes.

Eric, Solange and Mark led a webinar called “Exploring Algebraic Thinking in a Math Teachers’ Circle”, revisiting a workshop that we gave at the 2015 National COABE Conference. This webinar focuses on an inquiry-based process of algebraic thinking through use of visual patterns and multiple strategies for problem solving, including drawing, different ways of seeing, making charts/tables, and making predictions using rules. Facilitators model an open approach, having students generate their own problems and also discuss how to help students analyze and connect different solution methods and how to bridge visual thinking into algebraic thinking.

## Exploration of Consecutive Numbers

In this meeting, Usha returned to lead an exploration of consecutive numbers through a low-entry, high-ceiling problem she recommends as an introduction to functions/algebra.

For our June meeting, we were lucky to have Usha Kotelawala, Director of Math Education for CUNY’s LINCT to Success, as a guest presenter. Usha started the meeting by talking a little about her thought process in choosing today’s problem. In discussing CAMI with Usha, Eric had raised the issue of how to order problems through a semester, so that the mathematics is sequenced and scaffolded for students and students learn through problem-solving. In response to this question, Usha brought us a problem she recommends as the first in a sequence on algebraic reasoning. Continue reading “Exploration of Consecutive Numbers”

CAMI did a few workshops in April, sharing our teaching circle’s work on exploring real-life math through three-act math tasks.

Eric and Mark did a workshop at the 2017 COABE Conference in Orlando called Mathematical Modeling: Questions from a Math Teachers’ Circle. A few weeks later at the NYC ABE Conference, Brian took the lead and together with Mark and Eric did a similar workshop called 3-Act Math Tasks: Let Students Build the Problem. Continue reading “CAMI Roadshow: 2017 COABE and NYC Adult Basic Education Conferences”

CAMI celebrated its two year anniversary with a few founding CAMI members representing our teachers’ circle at this year’s regional NCTM conference in Philadelphia.

Our session began at 8 in the morning with a small but energetic and enthusiastic group of teachers from Maryland and New Jersey. We started with introductions and a brief introduction to CAMI including a discussion of the Diana Lambdin quote that went out with our initial invitation to CAMI in November 2014… Continue reading “CAMI Roadshow: NCTM 2016”

## Dana’s Rectangle

Inspired by the work of the Navajo Math Circle, CAMI explores the area of rectangles and their borders, testing conjectures and making generalizations.

Eric started the meeting by talking about the Navajo Math Circles, which is a joint project of the Navajo Nation and mathematicians from Math Teachers Circle Network. A recent documentary tells the story. This meeting’s problem is from an article about the Navajo Math Circle (see Further Reading pdf link above) by Tatiana Shubin, whose video Grid Power was the subject of this past July’s CAMI meeting.

## Making and Testing Conjectures: The Diagonal Problem

Draw a rectangle on grid paper and draw a diagonal. Is there a way to predict the number of squares the diagonal will pass through?

I have been thinking about MP3 from the Common Core, specifically about how to get students to make conjectures, to test those conjectures and to refine their conjectures when it turned out they were not always true. I was also thinking about student perseverance and helping them not get too frustrated. I’ve done some activities like Marilyn Burns’ consecutive sums problem (see additional resources below), but I want something that feels messier and a little more unwieldy. Continue reading “Making and Testing Conjectures: The Diagonal Problem”

## Resources from NCTM 2016

So many games, puzzles and problems from the NCTM annual meeting…

In April, along with some other CAMI members, Jane and Solange went to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) annual meeting in San Francisco. In this meeting, they shared some of their favorite games, puzzles and problems from different workshops.

We started with the game Which Number is Closest? from Building Mathematical Thinking Through Number Games, by Linda Dacey and Jayne Bamford Lynch. We played a variation of the game where we each rolled a ten-sided die and then wrote down each number in the box of our choice. Continue reading “Resources from NCTM 2016”