Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


James Tanton – Inspired by Math #11

The MAA recently published a book, Mathematics Galore!, of creative classroom activities by James Tanton. These activities are great explorations for high school and motivated middle school students to work through alone, or for group work in Math Circles. I got a review copy of the book and instantly fell in love with it. I've been a fan of James' for some time, and I've plugged his work a number of times.

When "Mathematics Galore" was published I used the event as an opportunity to congratulate James and as an excuse to interview James for my "Inspired by Math" podcast series.

If you've been as enthralled as I've been by James' Youtube videos, or as impressed as I've been with his textbooks, you'll enjoy listening to this interview and getting to know James a little bit more personally.

James Tanton

About James Tanton

Believing that mathematics really is accessible to all, James Tanton (PhD, Mathematics, Princeton 1994) is committed to sharing the delight and the beauty of the subject. In 2004 James founded the St. Mark’s Institute of Mathematics, an outreach program promoting joyful and effective mathematics education. He worked as a full-time high school teacher at St. Mark’s School in Southborough MA,(2004-2012) and he conducted, and continues to conduct, mathematics graduate courses for teachers through Northeastern University and American University. He also gives professional development workshops across the nation and Canada.

James recently relocated to Washington D.C. and is currently a visiting scholar of the Mathematical Association of America. He also conducts the professional development program for Math For America program in D.C.

James is the author of SOLVE THIS: MATH ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS AND CLUBS (MAA, 2001), THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MATHEMATICS (Facts on File, 2005), MATHEMATICS GALORE! (MAA, 2012) and twelve self-published texts. He is the 2005 recipient of the Beckenbach Book Prize, the 2006 recipient of the Kidder Faculty Prize at St. Mark’s School, and a 2010 recipient of a Raytheon Math Hero Award for excellence in school teaching.

He also publishes research and expository articles, and through his extracurricular research classes for students has helped high school students pursue research projects and also publish their results.

James Tanton's Coordinates

Web-site: jamestanton.com
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/drjamestanton
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/tanton.math
Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/jamestanton

About "Mathematics Galore"

Mathematics Galore!
Mathematics Galore! showcases some of the best activities and student outcomes of the St. Mark's Institute of Mathematics and invites you to engage in the mathematics yourself! Revel in the delight of deep intellectual play and marvel at the heights to which young scholars can rise. See some great mathematics explained and proved via natural and accessible means.

Based on 26 essays ("newsletters") and eight additional pieces, Mathematics Galore! offers a large sample of mathematical tidbits and treasures, each immediately enticing, and each a gateway to layers of surprising depth and conundrum. Pick and read essays in no particular order and enjoy the mathematical stories that unfold. Be inspired for your courses, your math clubs and your math circles, or simply enjoy for yourself the bounty of research questions and intriguing puzzlers that lie within.

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Help get this film into every public middle school

My good friends, Scott and Jen, at Imagine Education have produced an educational film, The Biggest Story Problem. I had the opportunity recently to attend a private screening of the film. The documentary does an outstanding job of identifying a number of the issues that make the American math education system seriously challenged. Many of these were new to me. More importantly, this is not a "doom and gloom" film. Scott and Jen offer hope for our future and not in some abstract or hypothetical way. Scott has spent years as a classroom teacher. He's engaged students in amazing ways, through exciting and sophisticated role playing games. He and Jen have taken the powerful idea of role playing to develop Ko's Journey, a rite-of-passage math education game. (I interviewed the two for my podcast series.) These two are really onto something.

Check out this trailer for "The Biggest Story Problem."


If you feel as inspired as I do please contribute to the goal of getting a copy of the film into every public middle school in the U.S. Be part of spreading this important message. You can sponsor a school here.

You might also enjoy this Youtube video preview of Ko's Journey.

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