Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Math Teachers at Play Blog Carnival #113

Welcome everyone to the 113th Math Teachers at Play blog carnival! As usual, I'm lucky to have the best month to curate. 113 is the prime MTaP because:
  • 113 is prime
  • all permutations of the digits are prime
  • all 2 digit subsets of the digits are prime
  • the product of the digits is prime
  • the sum of the digits is prime
  • 113(4) (113 in base 4, the smallest base that is sensible) is also prime!
  • 2113 - 2 is divisible by 113. Wow! (see Jordan Ellenberg's Favorite Theorem)

October is for Play

October is a perfect month to talk about mathy play because of:

Later this week is the largest international games convention in Essen, Germany. I'm jealous of any of you who get to go. For the rest of us, I've collected a bunch of great math games and explorations to keep us happy.

Before we move off Spiel, though, take a look at the logo above again.
What do you notice?
What do you wonder?

Click this button to compare with another version of the logo:


In the spirit of Malke Rosenfeld's Math in Your Feet, Mrs. Miracle's post about beat passing games can inspire a whole-body exploration of patterns. I like expanding beyond visual patterns and the fact even very small children can create their own beat pattern.

For some reason, this old Christopher Danielson post resurfaced on my RSS reader. While it is an old one, I hadn't seen it before, so maybe you missed it too or will appreciate reading it again: Armholes. Maybe it is easier to be patient while waiting for the kids to get dressed if we are also exploring math at the same time?

How many holes?

An online math competition for elementary kids: BRICS Math. I like using math competition questions as a jumping off point for further conversations and explorations. Sometimes the questions have natural extensions (what if we changed this number?) and other times we just talk about what the kids found interesting about the question or what it made them think about.

Iva Sallay (who has hosted the last edition of MTaP) makes a Halloween 10 Frame (just in time!)

Here are some wonderful images and gifs from Gábor Damásdi. They could be a good prompt for Notice & wonder for young kids and older ones:

AO Fradkin talks about a tricky game that helps develop mathematical language: A figure with pointy things...
This question: why do we bother with defined terms and mathematical language fits nicely with Chasing Number Sense's exploration of the definition of a polygon: Polygon is a shape that is really big.

Denise Gaskins, the wonderful unifying force behind this blog carnival, reminds us of 30+ things to do with a 100 chart. I have one more to add: our family first learned to play Go on a 100 chart with some small blue cubes and bananagram tiles, before we had a chance to buy our first dedicated board. Here's an old snap from the beginning of the year:

Middle School

If you like chained fraction puzzles (we do!) and you like thinking about concrete manipulatives (we do!!) then you'll enjoy this post from Bridget Dunbar: Thinking in th Concrete.

Another post from Iva Sallay uses candy to teach equation solving: Solve for X with candy. With Iva's help, we're certainly ready for a mathy Halloween.

Presh Talwalkar at Mind Your Decisions occasionally posts viral puzzles with some nice explanations. I enjoyed this one (octagon in a paralellogram) because it fit with a problem solving strategy we've been practicing recently: test a special case. Here, we tried starting with a square, then discussed whether that was really a "special case" or fit the general situation.

Mike Lawler, as usual, has some fun posts, this time I picked out his videos talking about Tim Gowers's intransitive dice.

Different from Tim Gowers's dice?

Huge jars of coins are wonderful, for so many reasons. Kristen (Mind of an April Fool) shares a fun 3-act lesson: Sassy Cents. Our family has gotten a lot of mileage out of doing notice and wonder at home with similar 3-act lessons.

Jim Propp contributed to the excitement of Global Math Week with a sort of History of Exploding Dots. I have an especially warm feeling for this story because he includes mention of the "minicomputer" idea created by Frederique Papy. These minicomputers figured prominently in my own elementary math education.

High School/More advanced

Continuing with the theme above around language, definitions, precision and math, Mr Orr gives us 3 Desmos Activities for Talkers & Drawers.

Curiousa Mathematica shares a Putnam exam question that is actually very accessible: Spots on a ball. Try to think about it before reading the solution.

Patrick Honner talks about some of the math related to gerrymandering in Wasted Votes. In his discussion, he describes a game that sounds very much like Mathpickle's A Little Bit of Aggression (pdf here.)

SolveMyMaths has done a series this month on trig identities. These build step-by-step pictures to help understand what is going on, for example, in the angle addition formulas. Take a look (they are easier to understand than this final step picture, but it is one of my favorites):

Teaching Resources

For all of us who sometimes have to find a math curriculum for our kids, David Wees has created his checklist of necessary characteristics: Questions about Curriculum.

What makes a good school? Jane Mouse (in russian) explains that there is no "best" school. For those of us who teach our own kids, one interpretation is that we should try to expose the kids to a variety of modes and styles. Also, what is working now might change over time.

Sam Shah offers a number of hacks for making your own material. My personal recommendation is for you to try this out with your kids: make problems together and discuss the process. What makes a good question? What makes a hard vs an easy question? Can you create problems with only one, more than one, or no answers?

Resourceaholic (Jo) has, you guessed it, a presentation on resources: Power of Six presentation. Be sure to take a look at Jo's Resource Library for ideas when you need secondary school material.

I'm sure there are a lot of other great posts with families and teachers sharing their math games and explorations. Please add comments to let me know about your favorites from the month (or older ones)!

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