9 August, 2013
Volume 18 No. 32
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In This Issue

Nix the Tricks

Insights into Mathematical Thought

My Congressional District Statistics


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Nix the Tricks


Hate it when kids show up to class with math tricks that shortcut real concept development?

When a colleague approached her to lament their students' grasp of slope, Tina Cardone expanded the conversation -- first to her math department, then to her online community. By sharing methods that emphasize understanding over memorization, together they have developed a group document of the "worst offenders" to nix -- and their fixes.

Named after the sixth Math Practice of the Common Core State Standard (CCSS), the current draft of "Attend to Precision" has four themes: phrases to avoid, vocabulary, notation, and "debate!" Mnemonics, cliches, and other tricks to nix and fix include

  • Evaluating Expressions: PEMDAS
  • Evaluating Expressions: Two negatives make a positive
  • Less Than/Greater Than: "Hungry" symbols
  • What's the first step?
  • Operations with Fractions: Cross multiply
  • Multiplying Expressions: FOIL
  • Solving Equations: The square root and square cancel
  • Opposite vs. reciprocal vs. inverse

Beyond teaching in her Massachusetts public high school, Cardone participates in professional development activities such as the Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS), Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI), and Twitter Math Camp. To contribute to the final document's formatting, tagging, illustrating, and more, scroll down her blog post of Saturday and complete the two-question survey:


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"Now that the summer is coming to an end, I keep reminiscing about all the schoolwork I used to have to complete over the summer to get me ready for the next and upcoming grade. Every summer I would have a summer reading book to read. I hardly ever had math work to complete...."
- Gina, posted to her blog

Insights into Mathematical Thought


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has just released a new book all about the distributive property.

Each essay in the collection Insights into Mathematical Thought: Excursions with Distributivity "encourages readers to find new ways of understanding the significance and limitations of a subject usually presented as purely logical and not often connected with how the mind works in other domains."

Freely sample the table of contents and preface from the book — available in print or digitally — as well as an excerpt of the first seven pages of the opening chapter, titled "Multiple Ways of Seeing." To save up to 25% on purchases, key in the code that NCTM posted on Facebook:


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"I'm at a loss of words to describe the 'proofs' presented in Geometry Module 1. The lack of rigor in notation drives me nuts. There are several things about the CCSS I like, even defining congruence via rigid motions; but having to unlearn a course I've taught for so long with so much emphasis on rigor is going to be very difficult. What do the rest of you think?"
- Ronald, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

My Congressional District Statistics


The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the first interactive tool geared exclusively for the nation's congressional districts — and it comes with a nifty widget.

My Congressional District serves detailed demographic, social, and economic statistics about the country's 435 districts. The education category, in particular, breaks out school enrollment and educational attainment information.

Using the latest annual statistics from the American Community Survey, the Census' app lets you take data about a selected 113th congressional district and embed them on your own webpage. Just click "Download and Share" in the app's lower right corner, then "Embed Widget" above the words "My Congressional District."


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