4 July, 2014
Volume 19 No. 27
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In This Issue

Playing With Math

Brief Survey of Grand Challenges in Mathematics Education

Math Ed Podcast


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Playing With Math


Subtitled "Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers," the book Playing With Math features stories by 30 authors telling how they've shared their enthusiasm for math with others.

Five and a half years in the making, the 300+ page anthology includes chapters such as

  • On Noticing and Fairness: A Mindful Math Circle, by Rodi Steinig (with a puzzle by Avery Pickford: "Is this for real?")
  • Bionic Algebra Adventures, by Colleen King (with a story by Denise Gaskins: "Alexandria Jones in Egypt")
  • The Oakland Math Circle: A First Iteration, by Jamylle Carter (with a game by the Exploratorium staff: "Fantastic Four")
  • A Prison Math Circle, by Bob and Ellen Kaplan (with a puzzle by James Tanton: "Math Without Words #2")
  • Teach Less, Learn More, by Sue VanHattum (with a game by John Golden: "Modular Skirmish")
  • Better Teaching Through Blogging, by Kate Nowak (with an activity by Sean Sweeney: "Candy Launcher")
  • Area of a Circle, by Fawn Nguyen (with an exploration by Joshua Zucker: "Coloring Cubes")

VanHattum, last mentioned in these pages four months ago for her "Top Ten Issues in Math Education" blog posts, edited Playing With Math. It will ship (or download) in November, thanks to crowdsourced funds now compensating artists and page layout folks, and paying for the print run from publisher Delta Stream Media, founded by Maria Droujkova.

The fundraising campaign ends Sunday, 20 July. To get in on the pledge rewards, read early reviews, and learn more about Playing With Math, visit


Brief Survey of Grand Challenges in Mathematics Education


What grand challenges do mathematics educators need to solve?

The Research Committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) seeks your input in defining the field's big-picture problems in a survey of two short, open-ended questions.

Among other qualities, "grand challenges" affect millions, even hundreds of millions of people; capture the popular imagination — and thus political support; and, while extremely hard to do, are doable through multiple research projects across many sub-disciplines.

Math Ed Podcast


Since November, 2012, Samuel Otten has interviewed mathematics education researchers about their recent journal articles and the research studies behind them. The professor of mathematics education at the University of Missouri has now conducted more than three dozen such conversations, which he always concludes by asking what the interviewee would be doing if not math education — a question that routinely turns up funny insights.

Freely listen to half hour-long episodes with, among others,

  • Ian Whitacre on "Happy and sad thoughts: An exploration of children's integer reasoning" (Journal of Mathematical Behavior)
  • Jungeun Park on "Teaching prospective teachers about fractions: Historical and pedagogical perspectives" (Educational Studies in Mathematics)
  • Corey Webel on "High school students' goals for working together in mathematics class: Mediating the practical rationality of studenting" (Mathematical Thinking and Learning)
  • James Tarr on "New assessments for new standards: The potential transformation of mathematics education and its research implications" (Journal for Research in Mathematics Education)
  • Whitney Johnson on "Teaching with speeches: A black teacher who uses the mathematics classroom to prepare students for life" (Teachers College Record)
  • Mara Landers on "Towards a theory of mathematics homework as a social practice" (Educational Studies in Mathematics)
  • Joanne Lobato on "Students' mathematical noticing" (Journal for Research in Mathematics Education)
  • Egan Chernoff on Probabilistic thinking: Presenting plural perspectives (a volume in the Springer series "Advances in Mathematics Education")
  • Patricia Moyer-Packenham and Arla Westenskow on "Effects of virtual manipulatives on student achievement and mathematics learning" (International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments)

In his most recent podcast, Otten talks with Edward Silver. They discuss the University of Michigan professor's career in mathematics education, including Silver's work on the QUASAR project — which supported and studied the improvement of mathematics instruction in urban middle schools — and his thoughts about key challenges facing the field of mathematics education.


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