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World's Largest Math Event
Posted:
Apr 24, 1995 6:26 PM


On April 19 I posted information concerning WLME and indicated a special interest in hearing what K6 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 K6, 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 classall by itselfcould really complete the hug? How about a literature tieinread 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 ideasmy Eisenhower teachers compiled the following listI'm sure you can provide the meanings of each, the necessary details, and the connections to tasks: reallife 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, nonstandard 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 mathrelated 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 Addendapick a gradelevel booklet or select a strand booklet/The Mathematics Curriculum and Teaching Program Activity Banktwo volumes packed with super ideas from Down Under (Charles Lovitt and Doug Clarke)/Playground Math Gamestwo volumes from the Math Group (Dale Kilhefner and Yours truly)/Creating a Climate for Change...Math Leads the Wayvideo and accompanying support materials from the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Collection (Robert Kansky)/The Comprehensive School Mathematics ProgramCSMP 21McREL 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 thembut 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



