Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Math Intervention Blog

[ Editor's note: Jim, of the Math Intervention Blog took me up on my offer to promote sites I feel good about. Here is Jim's intro to his blog. ]

Thanks Sol for helping all of us spread the word about our contributions to math teaching and learning! Our blog, Math Intervention Blog, is a forum for thinking together about teaching and learning math, with special attention to supporting students who are struggling. And unfortunately there continues to be a lot of them.

We are tutors and developers of math intervention materials and offer teacher development programs. We are concerned with how math is too often taught. When we go into schools to do workshops, we see active teachers explaining and modeling and passive students (listening and understanding?). These lessons are filled with special math language. Gaps are created in what the students hear and understand. Teachers are trying to give them a fish, not teaching them to fish.

The approach we take and you can see throughout our blog, is guided student discovery. We have posts that describe the process and "Problems of the Week" with solutions that model it. For instance, rather than explaining the solution to our weekly problems, we provide a "guided solution," questions that guide student discovery of the concept or procedure, or why pi has to be some number between 3 and 4 - in other words, teaching them to fish. We found that guiding students with good materials and good questions works just as well with those who need help as with those who are “getting it.”

What are you thinking about? Let us know how the posts and problems strike you. And again, thanks Sol.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

A beautiful proof without words

While surfing the Web for Math-related stuff I happened upon this wonderful "proof" without words:

Can you figure out what the image illustrates? Can you figure out what two facts you need to know to do the "proof?" Yes, I realize that visual demonstrations are not proofs.

If you need a hint, check out the original document by Professor Osler.


Promote your Math-related cause, website, or book

If you have a Math-related site, especially one that is non-commercial or mostly non-commercial, and you write me a guest article I'll likely publish it here. If you want to plug a great Math-related cause, write it up and submit it as well. If you have a book (or product) and you send me a copy then I may write a review of it.

You can save yourself time and effort by first sending me a link to your site or telling me briefly about your book and I'll write back telling you if I'll promote it or not.

Occasionally, people write to me asking if I sell ads. I don't. Currently, the only source of revenue for this blog is from Amazon, from books purchased through the widget in the right sidebar or from links to books in articles.

I'm quite busy these days. I write sporadically. But, if you do the work of writing the article then I'll likely publish it the same day or within 24 hours. That's because I like to have content for this blog; I'm just not up to generating lots of it these days.

A couple of examples of guest posts I published are from Alex (Pi Day Challenge) and from Taunia (Rhythm, Rhyme, Results). Neither post was particularly long or elaborate but they both conveyed a message.

Filed under: Uncategorized 3 Comments

Pi Day Challenge

[ Editor's Note: Alex Cook is involved in a "Pi Day Challenge" that involves solving 28 puzzles. Alex sent me the following email which I'm forwarding for your enjoyment. Yes, Pi Day was Sunday but the festivities continue! ]

Hello Fellow Math Enthusiasts!

My name is Alex Cook, and I want to let you know about a project I am working on called the Pi Day Challenge.

First off, this project is not exactly my project - it is a project of Matthew Plummer's, a high school teacher from Hanover, MA - I am helping with some of the logistics!

Starting in 2003, Matthew Plummer started creating "Puzzles" on the computer for students. The puzzles were math and logic based. These puzzles were compiled together, put on his school's web site (hanoverschools.org), and then launched on Pi Day (March 14th). The objective was to go through each of the puzzles and make it to the end.


Happy Pi Day: interview with pi poet

Happy Pi Day, everyone! Today I have a special treat. I had the opportunity to interview Pi poet, Mike Keith. Mike is into constrained writing and Pi, among other things. Mike recently published a book, Not A Wake, that demonstrates the constrained writing:

A collection of short stories, poetry, plays, puzzles, and other surprises, all constructed according to the rigid rules of "Pilish", that peculiar variant of English in which the number of letters in successive words is required to follow the digits of the number π = 3.14159265358979..., in this case for a truly grand total of 10,000 decimals. The perfect book for fans of the number Pi, constrained writing, wordplay, puzzles, or experimental prose and poetry.

Mike sent me a copy of "Not a Wake" to review. In case it's not obvious, the three words of the title of the book have 3, 1, and 4 letters. And, the pattern continues with the subtitle "A Dream Embodying Pi's Digits Fully for 10000 Decimals."

This is a fun book. The challenge in writing such a book is to have the writing be natural in the face of a pretty serious constraint! The book accomplishes that beautifully! Mike is clearly a poet as he is able to pluck the right words out of the ether to make the poetry flow. And, he does it for 10,000 words!


Rhythm, Rhyme, Results: rapping about Math for Pi Day

[ Editor's Note:

Taunia from "Rhythm, Rhyme, Results" wrote to me asking if I'd blog about her education site. The site sells fun educational music and, in particular, has some Math songs in their Pi Day Collection. I wrote back letting Taunia know that I rarely plug commercial sites but I liked what her company was doing (luring students to Math with rap music) so I'd give her a plug on two conditions:

  1. She sends me a couple of sample songs so that I feel good about what I'm listening to.
  2. She writes a guest article for Wild About Math! I emphasized that the guest article should be educational in nature and not at all "salesy."

Well, I liked what I heard and here is Taunia's soapbox. ]

Greetings from Rhythm, Rhyme, Results

While researching different math blogs and sites online, we came across “Wild About Math!” and decided to say hello since our educational goals are quite similar. At educationalrap.com we strive to make math (and all academics, actually) fun and creative. And like a lot of math folks out there, we’re celebrating Pi Day on March 14th.

Rhythm, Rhyme, Results (educationalrap.com) is spread out on both US coasts. Our network of collaborators spans across the country, so we’ve come up with a workflow that works for us. We start by picking topics that are required by state assessment standards, and compare those to topics requested specifically by teachers. After researching and outlining a song topic, we then either write the lyrics ourselves or hire a lyricist. We have one artist who composes, writes lyrics, and performs, but most of the time we use a number of artists for every song.