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.

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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”

CAMI Roadshow: COABE 2016

Facilitating a meeting in Dallas, while live-tweeting with teachers in NYC, we explored a visual pattern to model what our teachers’ circle is all about.

This CAMI Roadshow involved about 35 teachers in a ballroom at the Sheraton at the 2016 COABE conference and 3 additional teachers who were back in NYC, participating through Twitter.

We wanted to maximize teachers’ time working on the problem but we also wanted to convey some important norms about how we run CAMI meetings, so we began with an ice breaker. The instructions were simple. First, everyone sat down (including the facilitators). After that, the only goal was that there be 5 people standing and the only rule was we had to do it without talking. Continue reading “CAMI Roadshow: COABE 2016”

Keep it in the Family (with Pythagorean Triples)

Many of us are familiar with the 3, 4, 5 right triangle, and maybe the 5, 12, 13. Do you know any others? Is there a pattern to these triples?

As we came in the room, Eric asked us to place a post-it with our name on a voting spectrum he’d drawn on the board, ranging from “Never” to “This morning” under the statement, “The last time I thought about multiplication”.

As we settled in, Eric shared his goals for the meeting. He’s been working on a lesson for students combining some work he’s been doing on area models with a problem that has been consuming him for weeks. Continue reading “Keep it in the Family (with Pythagorean Triples)”

Problem-Posing with Visual Patterns

We can get conditioned to approach visual patterns in a particular way and jump immediately to the problem of looking for the nth figure (# of squares, for example). Beginning with an open, problem-posing approach can help break us out of that habit and really open up the mathematics.

Usha led us through an exploration of a visual pattern, building off of the work we’ve done at the last two meetings. She used problem posing to enable us to have greater ownership on the problem and to widen options to explore.

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Toothpick Patterns: Growing Squares, Growing Triangles, Growing Stairs

We wanted to build off the problem from last meeting, exploring visual patterns, with a focus on different ways of approaching these problems and how can we bring them into the classroom.

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Pentagon Patterns

Still looking for a name for our group, we went around introducing ourselves and each offered one word for our group vision:

Fun, Math, Community, Community, Building, Sharing, Other People’s Thoughts, Resources, Escape, Learning, Ideas, Adult/Young Adult, Inspiration

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