Math Memos

The Paycheck Problem

I don’t have my own class these days, so I’m always grateful to teachers who let me visit as a guest teacher. Angelo Ditta and Will Croxton from LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens generously allowed me to teach a combined class at their campus on the last day of class so that I could try out this new problem. The students were at an high school equivalency level, but with different levels of math abilities, as is typical of most adult education classes. The students at La Guardia are a wonderful mix of native New Yorkers and people from around the world. It’s an amazing place. Continue reading how Eric Appleton used The Paycheck Problem in class »

Mowing the Lawn: Let Students Ask the Questions

A couple months ago, one of my favorite math Tweeters and bloggers, Fawn Nguyen, posted this, which I promptly liked and retweeted:

Continue reading how Tyler Holzer used Mowing the Lawn: Let Students Ask the Questions in class »

Writing about Math: Solving Equations

Not long ago, I read an article by Marilyn Burns in which she explained how she used to view math and writing as “oil and water.” She thought that the two subjects had nothing to do with one another, and “writing played no role in [her] math classroom.” But now, she says, she “can no longer imagine teaching math without making writing an integral aspect of students’ learning.” In this article, Burns goes on to offer a number of suggestions for how teachers can incorporate writing into their math classes. This article really stuck with me, and so now, at least once each week, I like to ask my students to write about the math that we have been doing in class.

Continue reading how Tyler Holzer used Writing about Math: Solving Equations in class »

The Movie Theater Problem

I wanted to share some feedback on this problem because it’s so similar to the Goats and Chickens Problem that Daphne Carter-McKnight wrote about recently. You can read her fantastic writeup of the problem here. I like to use the Movie Theater Problem to assess how well students are able to make connections between the two problems and to see if they’re able to try some new approaches that maybe they didn’t try the first time around.

Continue reading how Tyler Holzer used The Movie Theater Problem in class »

The Goats and Chickens Problem

I chose to write about this problem because I love it! I love:

  • the variety of possible solution methods: arithmetic, algebraic, pictorial, mathematical, and representational;
  • the humor inherent in the problem;
  • the potential fun for students and their joy in working it out;
  • the gender switch on Farmer Montague;
  • seeing the different ways students draw the chickens and goats;
  • being surprised at who solves the problem and how;
  • seeing the light come on in students’ eyes when they arrive at the solution.

This problem pushes students to think outside the box. It is non-discriminatory in that I can, have, and did give this and a similar problem to students learning at the most basic level and those taking the HSE exam in the same week.

Continue reading how Daphne Carter McKnight used The Goats and Chickens Problem in class »