Thoughts from a reflective educator.
Here's a thought experiment for you (h/t to Dan Meyer for the sports analogy).
Here are two sample programs from a pair of kindergarten classes today (I took screen-shots of their program, and cropped them to fit in this blog).
I'm working on a block puzzle game. The objective is to cover the entire puzzle area with blocks of various sizes. So far I've got the basic structure up (it will only run in web browsers that support the Canvas HTML element, so Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, and maybe Opera). Scoring for the game depends on what types of blocks are used (you'll notice those little 1 by 1 squares are worth no points).
I'm looking for feedback on how to improve the puzzles.
Annie gives a very short talk that highlights some of the issues in math education, and which I can tie to work various people have done on learning.
Having spend the last ten years teaching students mathematical notation (while simultaneously teaching the mathematical concepts described by these symbols), I have often reflected on how efficient and amazing it is, and how unfortunately broken it often is.
Some notation shows off some of the power of mathematical thinking (for example, algebra), but some notation has clearly not been designed for clarity. In fact, my suspicion is that much of mathematical notation has been invented to save space.
Yesterday, our learning specialist for science, Ana, read an article about how games are used to help simulate the spread of disease. She suggested that we could turn this into a collaboration between biology and math, and create a game so that students learn some of the principles of the spread of disease (which is a biology topic) from a mathematical perspective.
My colleague found an activity to do with his 5th grade class, similar to this one. Basically, he gave the students 10 coins each, and asked them to put the 10 coins on a number line (with numbers from 1 to 12) with a partner. Each round they roll 2 six-sided dice, find the total, and remove a coin from their number line if it matches the roll. They keep going until one of the two students has no coins on the number line.