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Lovin On Maths

gum wall - Pike's Place Market

In case you’e never heard “maths” rather than “math”, talk to a Brit or an Australian about the beautiful subject, and you’ll hear “maths”. Somehow it feels more loving to me.

If you are a teacher or a parent or a human and you do not love math, please don’t say anything disparaging about math out loud- especially when you are in earshot of a child.

I have a theory that anyone not entranced by the joy of math had a math teacher early on that taught them fear- or that it’s okay to say “I’m just not good a math.” Please, please, for the advancement of math in our world, for the joy of humans and patterns and discovery, bite your tongue. Fake joy in math until you find it. I promise, if you give math a chance, you’ll discover its beauty and joy and relevance to EVERYTHING.

Math is patterns.

Patterns create music, patterns create art, patterns create language, patterns create nature. Patterns are everywhere. Maths are everywhere.

Fun Math Activity

5 minute prep to choose photos

I love to take random photos from beautiful photography websites and create math questions with students.

For example, this is a photo of the famous gum walls at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle:

gum wall - Pike's Place Market

Questions you could investigate:

  • What are ways to figure out the number of panes on the window without counting them?
  • How many windowpanes are in the photograph? What is a reasonable answer? Why? What is an unreasonable answer? Why?
  • What is your estimate of the diameter of the manhole cover in the foreground? Why is that reasonable?
  • How many pieces of chewed gum might it take to cover 1 square foot of wall? What would you need to estimate or decide to be able to make your estimate of gum per square foot? (size of gum piece, how long its been chewed, stretched out or balled up, one layer, etc.)
  • How wide do you think the hallway is? (might use estimated height of man taking photo) Why is your guess reasonable? What would be an UNreasonable estimate?
  • How high do you think the hallway is? Again, what is an unreasonable estimate? Why is your estimate reasonable?
  • How many boxes might be made by the lines on the entire manhole cover?
  • If the gum on the windowsill is in three layers, how many pieces of gum do you think it would take to cover the bottom windowsill? Reasonable estimate? Unreasonable estimate?

Yes, we could go on for some time with questions- longer than you’d want to spend looking at the chewed gum in this photograph.

Growth Mindset and Maths- Resources

Jo Boaler- out of Stanford- has a wonderful website full of joy of maths, videos supporting growth mindset in maths and loads of creative math activities. You can get lost in the YouCubed website for days- SO much good stuff. Here are some highlights YOU CAN USE TODAY:

Check out the YouCubed page. It is awesome.

Another of my favorite math websites (and math educators!) is Greg Tang. Greg Tang and his family are inspiring new thinking and creative thinking about math. They support number sense concepts and concepts that you can generalize in math. I went to my first Greg Tang conference annoyed about the sub plans I had to write. I left asking my principal if I could take a break form the curriculum and dive into number sense for two weeks with my 3rd graders. He is inspiring and full of growth mindset ideas around math.

Highlights from TangMath Website:

Please, please love on math. It is awesome, it just needs the recognition it deserves. Play with maths, enjoy maths, share your joy in maths.

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One Comment

  1. Yes! As someone who was shamed by math my entire childhood I witness how damaging it was. The belief that I was “bad at math” was ingrained until I consciously undid that internal bias. What a waste of math years in the interim. Ps. Great suggestions for incorporating maths into the everyday.

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