Henri Picciotto's

Math Education Newsletter

October 2019

See you in Asilomar!

Hello educators!

Lew Douglas, a fellow math teacher, passed away last spring. I had known him for decades. Even though we worked at different schools, we frequently got ideas from each other. After we both retired from the classroom, he suggested we work together on transformational geometry: develop curriculum, and offer professional development workshops. You can see some of the fruits of our labor on my Transformational Geometry page.

A few weeks ago, I teamed up with other Bay Area math educators to present Lessons from Lew, a PD session for math teachers in his memory. I share information about that session, and handouts, on my Talks page, including links to materials by Lew, by Kim Seashore, and by me.

Lew lives on in classrooms, through the lessons he created and inspired. Read my blog post about him.


PS: If you're in Northern California, you should come to Asilomar and attend my presentation (on geoboards). Scroll to the end of this e-mail for more information.

Until then, I hope you'll find this newsletter useful. Stay in touch!

Blog Posts

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

Retakes vs. Test Corrections vs. Neither

A common topic of discussion among math teachers is the question of "retakes". Under what conditions should students be allowed to have another chance at taking a test? How does the retake affect the grade? Different opinions reflect different values, different attitudes towards assessment, and different understandings of how learning happens. I share my views here.

Freakonomics Radio on Math Curriculum

Every now and then, an academic decides they're qualified to fundamentally rethink math education, and to share their brilliant solution with the world. Steven Levitt’s contribution to this genre, in the Freakonomics Radio episode on math education is not as bad as what we usually get from these self-appointed saviors, but it does have some glaring weaknesses. I respond here.

Teaching the Distributive Property

This is an eloquent guest post by Rachel Chou, on the importance of non-examples in solidifying student understanding. She challenges some shallow approaches, and offers practical alternatives.

On my Web site.

More by Rachel Chou


In addition to the aforementioned blog post, Rachel has been contributing materials to my website:

Some Old Favorites

Since I have not added much else to the site lately, I'll direct you to some old favorites:

Asilomar Conference

I will present
Connect the Dots! Geoboard Problems for Ages 9 to 99
Saturday, Dec 7, 11am, Pacific Grove Middle School Room 34

no three

We will explore a wide range of problems and puzzles on geoboards. (Dot paper works also.) Some provide a hands-on approach to secondary school topics such as slope, the Pythagorean theorem, and simplifying radicals. Some are currently unsolved and are fun to think about. Some are "teacher-level" problems, and fall somewhere in between. Participants will walk away with many ready-to-use activities, suitable for middle school, Algebra 1, Geometry, and their own mathematical recreation.

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