The Math Forum: 1996 
Summer Institute - sum96

July 15-19, 1996 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Onsite Participants || Working Groups

Tom Scavo

Address: 616 Westcott Street, Syracuse, NY 13210
Phone: (315) 479-7183
School: Edward Smith School

Over the past two years, in collaboration with Byron Petraroja, a fifth-grade teacher at Edward Smith School (Syracuse, NY), Tom Scavo has developed a number of mathematics lesson plans on such non-traditional topics as tangrams, geoboards, probability, and statistics. The implementation of these lesson plans has been very much in line with the NCTM Standards, in terms of both content and delivery.

Tom writes: "Tangrams are two-dimensional geometric shapes that fit together to make larger shapes. A typical package of tangrams contains a square, two small congruent triangles, two large congruent triangles, a medium-size triangle, and a parallelogram. These shapes can be used to give the student 1) an introduction to area without formulas, 2) a familiarity with the names of various polygons, and 3) an understanding of certain geometric terms (such as congruent and similar).

"Geoboards are an excellent pedagogical devices with which to introduce the concepts of length and area. (Surprisingly, area is the simpler of the two concepts.) With a geoboard, a student can see the area of a rectangle, say, and will readily count the square units making up the figure. Indeed, "square unit" takes on a whole new meaning with the geoboard.

"Statistics is very much an applied mathematical science. This is especially true at the elementary level, where we must think of ways to introduce statistical concepts without formulas. One way to do this is to take a project-oriented approach that incorporates a range of activities including measurement, graphing, computation, data analysis, and presentation of results."

Tom would like to make these lesson plans available on the Web, and collaborate with other classroom teachers via the Internet. The statistics project, for instance, could be expanded to encompass multiple classrooms at remote locations.

Tom has twelve years teaching experience at the college level, with graduate degrees in statistics, mathematics, and computer science. As an educational consultant for the past three years, he has given courses and workshops on the Internet and other technical subjects to students and teachers. He recently created a Web page for students and teachers in the Syracuse City School District (accessible from his home page listed below). It includes many links to World-Wide Web sites of interest to educators.

You will find Tom's home page and can read all about him and his interests at

Working Groups: Data Collections, Paths through the Web

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Math Forum * * * * 10 July 1996