Henri Picciotto's

Math Education Newsletter

August 2022


A new school year starts! (And my retirement from the classroom continues. 🙂)

I thought Covid would be the end of my consulting career, but it turned out to be a temporary pause. I'm getting the occasional jobs again, and luckily they have not yet required getting on an airplane. During the pandemic, I worked on my website and blog, and of course this continues. Scroll down to read about my most recent writings and recordings.


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.

Technology in Math Education

It no longer makes sense to prioritize speed and accuracy in numerical computation or algebraic manipulation — if it ever did. The underlying concepts continue to be essential, but focusing on memorized techniques does not help students understand the math. Quite the opposite! Those techniques are intended to serve as a substitute for understanding. The endless practice required to be fast and error-free is not only pointless given today's technology, but it is also terribly boring. I discuss all this, and share some alternatives, here.


We Need to Review!

Most students do not learn important and difficult ideas the first time they come across them. Thus the need for review. But it is not a good idea to reteach the same ideas the same way. It is a waste of time for the students who already get it, and not very helpful to the others. It is especially problematic to start a course or a unit with review. In this post, I discuss the when and the how of review in math class. (For more on the need for extended exposure, and how to achieve it, see Reaching the Full Range.)

Polyarcs in the Classroom

In the late 1980's, I came up with polyarcs, a geometric puzzle in the tradition of polyominoes. I introduced them to the world on my website, but never managed to make them part of my teaching. Meghan Lee may well be the only teacher to have used polyarcs with students. In this guest post, she shares how they fit in her geometry class.


In addition to my Polyarcs activity, Meghan mentions Leonardo's Areas. (Both worksheets involve the perimeter and area of circles — you might consider them for π day.)

Making a GeoGebra Slide Show

I've used interactive geometry software for more than 30 years, and have shared my ideas on the Web for almost as long. However, I've only recently started to record videos for my site. So far, I've managed to do it without specialized video software or equipment. Instead, I've used whatever video camera and software is available on my computer. In this post, I share how GeoGebra can provide a way to make a presentation consisting of slides and geometric animations. See A New Path to the Quadratic Formula for the result of that experiment. (The "new path" is a derivation of the quadratic formula that involves neither parabolas nor completing the square.)

New, newish, and old on my website.

Lab Gear Videos / Lab Gear Q and A

Between 2007 and 2021, I offered summer workshops for math teachers. My most frequent topic was Visual Algebra, and in fact that workshop almost always had the largest enrollment. Part of it was dedicated to the Lab Gear, the algebra manipulative I designed. This summer, in lieu of a workshop, I created eleven videos about how to use the Lab Gear, and correlated them with pages in the Lab Gear books. I also suggest pages appropriate for teachers' professional development, and offer links to slide shows teachers can use in their pre-algebra and algebra classes. Find all this here.

See also:

Additions, Updates, and Tweaks...

...since my last newsletter:

Popular Pages

According to Google, these were the ten most-visited pages on my website since the last issue of this newsletter:

Math Education Consulting

After 42 years in the classroom, from counting to calculus, I have retired from teaching in order to concentrate on writing, curriculum development, and consulting.

As a consultant, I offer the following services:

Of course, I can only help based on my own experience and beliefs. To find out about my philosophy, see my About Teaching page. For a sense of my background and experience, see my résumé. I can work onsite and/or remotely.

For more info, click here, or get in touch by replying to this email.

To subscribe to this newsletter, or to read past issues, click here.

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