The use of mnemonic devices, or “tricks,” in the mathematics classroom has been criticized by some authors. However, when used in the proper context, such “tricks” can be extraordinarily helpful in motivating students and helping them remember procedures while understanding concepts and mastering appropriate mathematical vocabulary.
Ann E. West
Sheldon P. Gordon
In the climactic scene in The Wizard of Oz, Toto draws back the curtain to expose the Wizard of Oz, and Frank Morgan admits, “I am really a very good man but just a poor wizard.” This statement is reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke's famous third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Clarke 1962, p. 36). For almost all students, what happens when they push buttons on their calculators is essentially magic, and the techniques used are seemingly pure wizardry.
Lawrence O. Cannon
The article contains classroom enrichment suggestions related to Pythagorean triples. Topics discussed for student exploration can be adapted for any level from early algebra through early college.
Sheryl L. Stump, Joel A. Bryan and Tom J. McConnell
Acting as quality control engineers and service providers, students collaborate to engage, explore, and explain their results.
Can you imagine riding a tricycle with square wheels? Can you imagine that this tricycle would give you as smooth a ride as a traditional tricycle? A New York Times article (Chang 2011) described a tricycle that had square wheels but that could be ridden “smoothly around a circular path ridged like a flower's petals.” It then explained that the ridged surface on which the tricycle rode undulated such that “the tricycle's axles—and the rider—remain in the same height as they move.”
My favorite lesson is my lighthearted introduction to righttriangle trigonometry. I explain that we are starting a lesson that connects to the social studies curriculum—specifically, the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Bryan C. Dorner
Students who have grown up with computers and calculators may take these tools' capabilities for granted, but I find something magical about entering arbitrary values and computing transcendental functions such as the sine and cosine with the press of a button. Although the calculator operates mysteriously, students generally trust technology implicitly. However, beginning trigonometry students can compute the sine and cosine of any angle to any desired degree of precision using only simple geometry and a calculator with a square root key.
An analysis of problems from state assessments and other sources helps preservice teachers discover analogous mathematical representations.
The problem posed in MT August 2011 (vol. 105, no. 1, pp. 62-66) asked readers to consider the two-dimensional version of tipping a bowl (assumed to be a rectangular prism) to spoon out the last little bit of melted ice cream. Here is the essence of the problem: Given a fluid region of fixed area A contained in a rectangle whose width is W, find a formula for the fluid depth D when the container is tilted through a known angle T that is measured from horizontal.
Christopher W. Parrish, Ruby L. Ellis and W. Gary Martin
NCTM identified eight Mathematics Teaching Practices within its reform-oriented text, Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All (2014). These practices include research-informed, high-leverage processes that support the in-depth learning of mathematics by all students. Discourse within the mathematics classroom is a central element in these practices. The goal of implementing the practice facilitate meaningful discourse is to give students the opportunity to “share ideas and clarify understandings, construct convincing arguments regarding why and how things work, develop a language for expressing mathematical ideas, and learn to see things from other perspectives” (NCTM 2014, p. 29). To further support implementing meaningful discourse, mathematics educators must become adept at posing questions that require student explanation and reflection, hence, pose purposeful questions, which is another of the eight practices. Posing purposeful questions allows “teachers to discern what students know and adapt lessons to meet varied levels of understanding, help students make important mathematical connections, and support students in posing their own questions” (NCTM 2014, pp. 35-36).