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Topic: World's Largest Math Event
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Ronald A Ward

Posts: 298
Registered: 12/4/04
World's Largest Math Event
Posted: Apr 24, 1995 6:26 PM
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On April 19 I posted information concerning WLME and indicated a special
interest in hearing what K-6 teachers planned to do tomorrow (April 25)
to celebrate. Some have replied indicating that they really had no
information about the event and weren't sure what kind of activity would
be appropriate. Others indicated that they had ordered kits of
activities but hadn't yet received them.

If it will help, in this posting I will try to do several things:
1. Discuss the philosophy (purpose, etc) of this event as I
understand it. Given that, I'm sure many elementary teachers will be
able to CREATE THEIR OWN activities that will fit just fine.
2. Provide what I consider to be ONE VERY SIMPLE but appropriate
ACTIVITY that could be used at a number of elementary levels in some form.
3. Provide a list of a number of generic ways of enriching
mathematics instruction at K-6, any one of which might SUGGEST
appropriate activities.
4. Suggest several resources that contain a plethora of possible
activities. So, if you have any of them in your library or resource
room, CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY FROM THE RESOURCE.

Here we go: 1. The overall purpose is to celebrate mathematics, in
particular the 75th anniversary of NCTM. To give students a greater
understanding of mathematics as well as a greater appreciation of the
world in which they live, together with its peoples. Because
participation is the reward, you want to get as many students involved as
possible, and you want them to have fun. The THEME is "Give the World a
Mathematical Hug." It is suggested that students be involved in
innovative math tasks, falling either in the physical/kinesthetic area or
in the area of mathematical modeling. But I don't see any reason,
personally, why your choice of activity need fall in these areas. Also,
although it would be great to do this on Tuesday along with so many
others (so you can be part of the BIG Event, part of the WORLD of Fun), I
see nothing wrong with doing it whenever you can. Who's to know the
difference? And in the words of the philosopher James, "If it really
doesn't make a difference, then it doesn't matter at all."

2. Why not treat the theme literally? HOW MANY STUDENTS THE SIZE OF
THOSE IN YOUR CLASS WOULD IT TAKE TO REALLY GIVE THE WORLD A HUG? Why
not go out on the school lawn (given good weather), have them stand with arms
outstretched and fingertips touching, then lie down on their stomachs to
simulate giving the hug. Measure from outside finger tip to outside
finger tip. Now do the math necessary to compare with the circumference
of the earth. [About 25000 miles; diameter about 8000 miles] Another
question, how small would a planet have to be so that your class--all by
itself--could really complete the hug? How about a literature
tie-in--read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery?
Well, just an idea. But the math is there, it fits the theme, and I
think it would be a memorable event.

3. GENERIC ENRICHMENT ideas--my Eisenhower teachers compiled the
following list--I'm sure you can provide the meanings of each, the
necessary details, and the connections to tasks: real-life math/the
history of math/solve a new problem [not an exercise]/math games/math
videos, films, slides, music/use pictorial languages such as strings and
arrows/use tools such as the Papy Minicomputer, calculators, translators,
compasses, angle templates, protractors, trundle wheels, non-standard
measurement devices/use a new manipulative/use color in a functional
way/math puzzles and riddles/multicultural math activities/physical
movement/art & math/internet/outdoor math/a new piece of math-related
children's literature/math humor, cartoons, jokes/a new software
package/a contest a la math olympiad or odyssey of the mind/write some
poetry about math/integrate math with another subject. And I know you
can add to this list. :)

4. Some favorite RESOURCES of mine: the NCTM Addenda--pick a
grade-level booklet or select a strand booklet/The Mathematics Curriculum
and Teaching Program Activity Bank--two volumes packed with super ideas
from Down Under (Charles Lovitt and Doug Clarke)/Playground Math
Games--two volumes from the Math Group (Dale Kilhefner and Yours
truly)/Creating a Climate for Change...Math Leads the Way--video and
accompanying support materials from the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science
Collection (Robert Kansky)/The Comprehensive School Mathematics
Program--CSMP 21--McREL Educational Laboratory (Clare Heidema et al)/and
tons of great stuff you can order from the Spring NCTM Educational
Materials catalog if your library doesn't already have them--but just
checking thru the titles you may find some gems that your school already
has! From just these resources alone, you could teach exciting math
every day for years without ever repeating a lesson! And, of course,
other educators will have their own list of favorites. There's no
shortage of wonderful support material on the market. Cheers.

Ron Ward/Western Washington U/Bellingham, WA 98225
ronaward@henson.cc.wwu.edu






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