## 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 Ways of Multiplying

We explored multiplication through a number talk and alternative algorithms for calculating products.

Before the meeting, Davida showed Rachel and me a multiplication method a student had showed her earlier in the day. The student said that she only knew how to do multiplication using the method on the right and wanted to learn the method on the left. What a coincidence! This is exactly what I was planning to explore today.

## 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”

## 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)”