The Asked & Answered department shares excerpts from discussion threads on the online MyNCTM community. In this issue, featured threads highlight responses to members' questions regarding 1st grade number sense, multiplication and division of fractions, issues of definition and precision related to circles, and the value of rationalizing denominators.
Mi Yeon Lee and Dionne Cross Francis
These activities can support elementary school teachers in building students' conceptions of measurement.
Sarah B. Bush, Richard Cox, and Kristin Leigh Cook
Contributors to the iSTEM (Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) department share ideas and activities that stimulate student interest in the integrated fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in K–grade 6 classrooms. The authentic STEAM project described here was born of a critical need of one child in the community. Using the Design Thinking framework, a class of fourth graders embarked on what was arguably the most meaningful school project of their lives. We place an explicit focus on the M in STEAM.
Exploring how many pattern blocks will completely fill the Rocket Ship puzzle, students are challenged to use the most and fewest number of blocks possible. They have the opportunity to explore the composition and decomposition of shapes and generalize ideas about the relationship between the size of the pieces and the number of pieces. Each month, elementary school teachers are presented with a problem along with suggested instructional notes; asked to use the problem in their own classrooms; and encouraged to report solutions, strategies, reflections, and misconceptions to the journal audience.
Postscript items are designed as rich “grab-and-go” resources that any teacher can quickly incorporate into their classroom repertoire with little effort and maximum impact. In this article, classroom clocks are used as an effective tool to support student understanding of basic number, fraction, and geometry concepts.
Beth Bos, Lucy Wilder, Marcelina Cook, and Ryan O'Donnell
The Common Core State Standards can be taught with Minecraft, an interactive creative Lego®-like game. Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (iSTEM) authors share ideas and activities that stimulate student interest in the integrated fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in K—grade 6 classrooms.
Postscript items are designed as rich “grab-and-go” resources that any teacher could quickly incorporate into his or her classroom repertoire with little effort and maximum impact. The current article shares ideas for using Pattern Blocks to increase students' creativity and problem solving skills while extending their understanding of geometric reasoning and number sense.
Claudia R. Burgess
This geometry lesson uses the work of abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky as a springboard and is intended to promote the conceptual understanding of mathematics through problem solving, group cooperation, mathematical negotiations, and dialogue.
Liat Zippin and Lisa Englard
Math by the Month is a regular department of the journal. It features collections of short activities focused on a monthly theme. These articles aim for an inquiry or problem-solving orientation that includes at least four activities each for grade bands K—2, 3—4, and 5—6. In this issue, the problems capitalize on the natural curiosity of children to explore measurement.
Do prekindergarten students describing and illustrating their attempts at fair-sharing tasks exhibit a spontaneous understanding of fractions prior to formal instruction? This researcher shares her findings.