20 September, 2013
Volume 18 No. 38
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In This Issue

Fermi Fun this Fall

Common Core State Standards Support

Khan Speaks Spanish


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


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Fermi Fun this Fall


Do your math students enjoy playing around with big ideas and doing projects together? Then enroll them in the Fermi Off-the-Wall Math League!

Now in its fifteenth year, this Internet-based math competition welcomes students in grades 1-9 from around the world who seek enrichment, small group work, and creative, technology-rich experiences.

A Fermi question is posed with limited information given. For example,

  • How many water balloons would it take to fill grandma's bathtub?
  • How many cockroaches will fill the trunk of a VW Beetle?
  • How much fabric would it take to make a camo-suit for Moby Dick?
  • How many eggs would fit in the Trojan Horse's body?

The six-week Fall '13 season of Fermi Math starts Tuesday, 1 October.

Coincidentally, just last week an undergraduate posted about the new Fermi problem-solving functionality that he spent his summer internship at Wolfram adding to its computational knowledge engine. Thanks to physics major Andrew Steinacher, Wolfram|Alpha now solves order-of-magnitude estimation problems such as

  • How many ping pong balls could fit in a Boeing 747?
  • How many apples could you fit on a football field?
  • How many snowflakes could you put in the Sun?


PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week

"I really enjoyed reading everyone's submissions this week, because I got to read so many different strategies. I love it when that happens! The strategies I saw this week were: Make a Table; Use Algebra; Use Logical Reasoning; Guess and Check; and Make a Graph. And then, in case five strategies wasn't enough for you, there were variations within some of the strategies!"
- Max, commenting on the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution

Common Core State Standards Support


Do your students' guardians have questions about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? The Council of the Great City Schools has produced "parent roadmaps" that provide guidance about what children will be learning and how family can support that learning in grades K-8.

Running six to eight pages in length, each freely downloadable guide includes examples; sections such as "Partnering with your child's teacher" and "Helping your child learn outside of school"; and three-year snapshots showing how selected standards progress from year to year.

They're also available in Spanish:


For more CCSS resources, check out the Forum's Internet Mathematics Library, which has a whole category dedicated to them:


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"I am also glad to see that you are both in the exact place as I am. I did not quite understand the reasoning behind the '4 number game,' as well. But I wasn't quite sure about the first 5 lessons either, and the kids seem to be doing well. So there must be a method to this madness."
- Betty, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

Khan Speaks Spanish


Khan Academy last week announced that it spent "the past year making it possible for our entire website experience to be translated into any written world language" — and it started with Spanish. Check out their "mapa del conocimiento":


Using the learning dashboard mentioned in these pages last month, Spanish-speaking learners can now receive personalized recommendations on what to work on next, have access to over 100,000 math practice problems, and track their progress.

Registered users of Khan Academy who want to change their language settings to Spanish need just select "Español" as their preferred language at the bottom of the homepage.


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