Henri Picciotto's

Math Education Newsletter

July 2013

Recent Blog Posts

Here are links to posts you might find interesting.
If you are so moved, you may comment on the posts, and/or subscribe to the blog.

"A New Algebra"

20 years ago, I wrote a paper on the need to revolutionize the teaching of basic algebra. My proposals centered on the use of themes (i.e. contexts, whether "real world", geometric, or whimsical,) and tools (manipulative, paper-pencil, or electronic.) The goal was to shift the emphasis from mindless mechanical facility to conceptual understanding. It is still relevant, alas — perhaps more so now than it was then. Read about it here.

Lagging Homework

Does today's homework need to be about today's class work? No! There is a wide range of benefits that can be reaped from a simple change in one's routine: making today's homework be about last week's class work. Read about it here.

More on Homework

Find more ideas on how to maximize the educational payoff of daily homework, here.

Intelligent sequencing vs. external mandates

I have long advocated the moving of various topics up or down the grades in the high school curriculum. The idea is to try to match the content we teach with students' level of mathematical sophistication, and to take advantage of new possibilities afforded by technology. The lack of grade level mandates in grades 9-11 in the Common Core State Standards can help! I discuss this, and other strategies, here.

Embracing Contraries

As a math teacher, I need to be 100% committed to mathematics. And at the same time, I need to be 100% committed to supporting my students. There is a tension between these poles, and the art of teaching involves finding ways to embrace those two contrary commitments. Read my post, inspired Peter Elbow's brilliant article, here.

Symmetry in Spain

My wife had a conference in Spain, so we built a vacation around it. We saw some great art and architecture, and I took some pictures of symmetric designs, especially at the Alhambra. Because the Common Core State Standards include a substantial component on transformational geometry, I'm guessing that symmetry will become a bigger topic in pre-college mathematics, so much so that I shared my vacation pictures with teachers in a summer institute! See my report, and links to the photos, here.


Hire me!

Come September, I'll be available as a consultant. I can offer workshops on a wide range of math education topics, and/or work closely with a math department that is looking to strengthen its program. If you think you might be interested, check out my résumé, and reply to this message.

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Visit my Math Education Page

Also: for a limited time, the materials I shared during my summer workshops are available on this temporary Web site. The site will continue to grow until the end of August.