I love puzzles.
Let A = 1, B = 2, C = 2, and so on, with each letter equal to its position in the alphabet.
The product value of a word is the product of the letters in that word. For example, CAT has a product value of 3 x 1 x 20 = 60.
What English word has a product value of 3,000,000?
I love technology.
After solving the puzzle above with paper-and-pencil, I wrote a computer program and found a second solution! (You can play with my program here.)
I love teaching.
What math concepts are required to solve the product value problem above?
As much as possible, I try to integrate the three.
One of my favorite classroom puzzles is Paper Pool. Nothing I do is more fun than leading a class of middle school students through this investigation—first creating cognitive dissonance by leading them to think there’s an obvious pattern, then showing them where the pattern fails; then, guiding them as they investigate on their own, using computers; and finally, facilitating a class discussion that allows them to develop and prove (or disprove) some of the mathematical conjectures they’ve formulated.
|In my role as the Online Projects Manager for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), I unfortunately don’t get to spend as much time in the classroom as I’d like. Luckily, I have twin four-year-old boys, and we play math games all the time. I regularly use resources from NCTM with them. They love to get the turtle to the pond with the Turtle Pond app from Illuminations; we regularly play Salute, a card game from the article “Multiplication Games: How We Made and Used Them” that appeared in Teaching Children Mathematics; and, they often ask to borrow my iPad or Droid X to play Okta’s Rescue. |
I agree with KenKen® creator and master educator Tetsuya Miyamoto, who said, “If you give children good learning materials, they will think and learn and grow on their own.” This is the philosophy that was instilled in me when I was an undergrad at Penn State and a grad student at Maryland, and it’s the philosophy we use when developing content for Illuminations.
I stay current on mathematics education and technology by interacting with great people. Discussions in Learning Math and other Thinkfinity Community groups are always informative, and listservs like Math Future keep me up-to-date and inspired. These online collaborations are one of the many reasons that I love technology. But face-to-face interactions are important, too, and though it’s a lot of work, I get more than I give as a member of the MathCounts Question Writing Committee, where I get to play math with some of the greatest problem solvers in the country. I also get to have a lot of fun networking with teachers when I present Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks, a talk based on math jokes, as well as on my blog of the same name. My offline encounters with teachers continually remind me that while technology is powerful, it can never replace a great teacher.
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