Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 3

So glad you stopped by for the third week of the book study for Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. If you asked your students, "What is math?" What kind of responses would you get? Would students say answering questions by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and/or dividing? Would they say problem solving and reasoning? In Chapter 3 the focus is on math...the creativity and beauty in mathematics.

"In order to understand the universe you must know the language in which it is written and that language is mathematics.” -Galileo Galilei

Key Takeaway: Mathematics is all around us. Mathematics needs to move beyond a textbook with right and wrong answers. If we look closely, we can see the mathematics of nature. We can investigate how animals, yes animals, use math. We can see the beauty in art. There is even the National Museum of Mathematics in New York.

Classroom Connections:
How do we help our students to see the beauty and creativity in math?
  • To start the year and to engage learners, I read Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. It does a great job to help students realize that math is around them EVERYWHERE! The book starts out, "On Monday in math class, Mrs. Fibonacci says, 'YOU KNOW, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.'" Before I read on, I ask students what they think the teacher means. They are quite surprised as I begin to read the story, reading faster and faster as I turn the pages. The text and the illustrations bombard students with how the main character in the story gets tangled up in math problems with every turn of the page. It makes the point that math is everywhere!
  • Another picture book that piques students' interest is Mathterpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving by Greg Tang. In this book, twelve artists are featured. Each piece of art is paired with a problem that focuses on addition for younger students and problem solving in multiple ways for older students. The art piece is featured on one page, and then groups of objects on the adjoining page to find a sum in different ways. The connection relates to the art piece subtlty but the novelty hooks learners. This is just one way to bring art into the math classroom.
  • Rather than pose questions that require a calculation and an answer (29), math needs to be more. It does not mean "faster is better." Math needs to be about collaboration and deep thinking. Using open math problems (29) helps students develop creative ways to problem solve. Flipping questions traditionally found in a textbook to open math problems is one way to move students to think about math differently. Sometimes students feel uncomfortable with these types of problems because there is no one right answer.
In a bag there are coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies) that add up to $1.00.
Penny pulls out 33 cents.
What coins did Penny pull out?
How much would be left in the bag?
What coins would be left in the bag?
Math really is a beautiful thing! Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place. Next week the chapter is on flexibility with numbers. See you then!

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  1. Great post! I had forgotten about The Math Curse & Mathterpieces!! I love both those books and will be pulling them out to use again this year; thanks for the reminder! :)

    1. I do enjoy bringing math literature into the classroom. I think stories help to show math through a different lens than just a bank of problems. Sometimes students also can make connections and use the literature as a memory trigger later in the year.

  2. Me too! Math Curse!! I didn't know about Mathterpieces so I'll have to check that out. I've started our first math days using the Week of Inspirational Math found on Jo Boaler's website. I'm one day short of the week and I think I'll use your ideas to round out my week! Thanks!!

    1. "Week of Inspirational Math"? I'll have to check that out. Thanks for sharing this resource!

    2. Thank you for your shout out for Week of Inspirational Math. Definitely something to bookmark and add to my math toolbox of ideas. I enjoy collecting all different ideas and then sifting through deciding what to use when!

  3. Math Curse has always been one of my favorite books to start the year. It really does a nice job of helping students see how much we use math. I also love Greg Tang's books, although I do not have the Math Masterpieces one. I will grab a copy on Amazon. I love math picture books and continue to add to my collection! Also, open problems can be powerful for young thinkers. Love them! Thanks for the great resource ideas!

    1. I am always excited when I see new math literature. I think it puts a spin on how you can present math! Two thumbs up for Math Curse :)!