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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Progress Logs Let's Talk about "Math Recess" by Singh and Brownell (2019) Reply To: Let's Talk about "Math Recess" by Singh and Brownell (2019)

  • Brigitta Southorn

    July 27, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Robin,

    Great minds think alike.  I’ve been enjoying “Math Recess” in my zero gravity chair as well.  I agree that the way in which this book is written makes it very easy to read and enjoy but also clearly conveys their passion for mathematics.  I have read “Making Number Talks Matter” and it’s on my desk for me to take another skim through it to see what I might be able to use with my classes this fall.  To answer your questions about how to create space in your school or classroom where mathematical play and games are encouraged, I am hoping to implement some of the ideas Sara VanDerwerf outlines in her “My Week 1 Math Posts”.  

    My Week 1 Math Posts – plus something new

    She outlines lots of great ways to put math incidentally in the path of students to hook them in to thinking about math, even when they are reluctant.  I am hoping to have a math puzzle posted outside my door each week and I’m trying to figure out how to fit a “play table” in to my classroom.  We’ll see after I get my class numbers.  🙂

    Dan Finkel’s Ted talk that you mentioned from Chapter 2 is one of my favourites.  I would agree that it would be a great one for PD with teachers.  

    I am also reading “Becoming the math teacher you wish you’d had”  and although it is geared more towards elementary classes, there are lots of great ideas and methods that I think can be used in high school.  One that I came across this evening is the idea of asking the students the following questions after you have finished a problem, “Do you have more questions after doing this?  What are you wondering about now?”  It ties to the following quote by Eric Knuth.

    “Mathematical curiosity includes more than simply a desire to learn or to know mathematics.  Mathematical curiosity also includes a desire to explore mathematical ideas through posing mathematically interesting problems after one has “finished” a problem.  The solution or aspects of the problem can become springboards for further exploration.”

    It also ties in to Sara VanDerwerf’s definition of what math is and what mathematicians do:  Mathematics is the study of PATTERNS.

    Mathematicians NOTICE patterns, DESCRIBE patterns, GENERALIZE patterns.

    I also enjoyed Chapter 3 and the discussion about the value of grades.  Although I will still be using a fairly traditional grading system in my courses this fall, I’m hoping to add to the back of my test a self assessment continuum for my students to complete for each of the expectations covered by the assessment.  I hope to be able to see how closely their assessment of their understanding matches what was demonstrated on the test and move them towards being more focused on the feedback provided and less on the actual grade.  

    I just finished reading Chapter 5 of “Math Recess” which is about the Finnish school system and how “Schooling is about finding your happiness”.  

    Although I know it is a constant struggle to cover (or uncover) the curriculum expectations we have for our courses, I am hoping that by spiralling I will be able to carve out time for students to spend time playing with mathematics.  

    Other ways to include a more playful approach in a small way is to do things like:

    Solve me mobiles –

    Which one doesn’t belong –

    I will often put something like that up at the end of class, to keep them engaged and hopefully leave them thinking about it until the next day.

    In chapter 4, they also give a lot of pencil and paper type games that students can play.  If you have a games club, you could play those types of games with your students.  Games like PIG also allow students to develop a “best strategy” to win.  Even 3-D tic-tac-toe can be lots of fun.  I attended a workshop with Peter Liljedahl where we spent over an hour figuring out how many different ways you could win at 3D tic-tac-toe on a 3x3x3 board, and then took that to a 4x4x4 shape, then 5x5x5.  It was fun.

    I hope you are enjoying your camping trip.  We just got back from a trip to Sault Ste. Marie for a ride on the Agawa Canyon Train.  Lovely scenery and good family time but the bugs up there are vicious!  

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as we enjoy the rest of this wonderful book.