David Wees's blog

How I used mathematics to choose my next apartment

The house my wife and I live in was recently sold, and so we have started looking for another apartment. Our current lease expires in a year and a half, and so we decided that, given how challenging the rental market is in NYC, that we should start looking right away. We also decided, somewhat arbitrarily, that we would attempt to find an apartment in the next six months, if only because we knew we would get sick of looking pretty quickly.

One model for adding fractions

When I first started tutoring students, I often noticed that they struggled to add fractions. The addition of fractions just did not make sense to them. Part of this is caused by students having a weak understanding of fractions, and part of this is caused by them not understanding why the typical algorithms used to add fractions make sense.

Here is one model that I developed for myself, so that I could understand why addition algorithms for fractions make sense, and then use this model to help students make sense of adding fractions.

 

Step 1:

What does effective mathematics teaching look like?

The definition of what effective mathematics teaching looks like very much depends on what purpose we assign to teaching mathematics. A classroom where the primary objective is to teach students a specific set of mathematical skills for them to use later will look much different than a classroom where the primary objective is to teach students how to think mathematically, although there is obviously overlap between those two classrooms.

A Fundamental Problem in Education

This diagram represents a problem in education which is, by no means, the ONLY problem in education.

People who are deeply knowledgeable about education vs people who set education policy.

 

How do we change this paradigm?

 

 

So you gave the formative assessment, now what? (Part 2)

This is part two of a three part series on formative assessment. This post deals with some things you can do between individual lessons based on formative assessment and during a lesson. You can read part one here.

 

Introduction

So you gave the formative assessment, now what? (Part 1)

Part of my current role is to help teachers use formative assessment in their teaching. This has turned out to have some interesting challenges, and has helped me grow tremendously as a teacher.

Seven Questions from My Son

Here are seven questions my son asked today.

  • Who invented buildings?
  • Why don't we slip on salt?
  • When you hold your eyes closed does more water get on the eyeballs than just blinking?
  • Why do hummingbirds move so fast?
  • Why are butterflies so pretty?
  • How did we get the name "people"?
  • Why do bees hum?

 

Kids are scientists. My job with my son is to teach how to answer his own questions.

 

 

Strategies for Subtracting Numbers

A few days ago, my wife told my son that he should do some mathematics from a 2nd grade workbook we had, and told him he could choose what he worked on. My son opened up the book to near the end of the workbook and decided to try some 2 digit subtraction exercises.

Here is an example of his work.

Subtraction attempt

 

Teachers are made, not born

Teaching is a learned activity. As such, the act of teaching requires that the teacher have a mental model of what it means to teach. When teachers teach in ways which appear to an outside observer to be ineffective or poorly thought-out, it is because they are using a flawed model for understanding teaching and learning. Blaming teachers for having flawed models is like blaming students for not knowing things; it doesn't solve the problem, it may even exacerbate it.

Mathematics education research from 2013

The following are studies which were all featured in the media in 2013. I am posting them here in the hope that they will be read more widely than they are, and that educators will examine the research themselves, and think about how this may affect their current practice.

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