Math Night Presentation and Parent Resources

We enjoyed seeing so many of you at math night! For those who missed it and would like to see what was covered, the presentation is here. Also, here’s a general overview of our main themes for each year of math at SGS:

SGS takes a balanced approach to math instruction, with both computational skills and conceptual understanding being emphasized throughout. Our classes are untracked and heterogeneous, and students spend some of their class time working collaboratively on difficult tasks. We are developing mathematical thinkers for the 21st Century, and we realize that our approach may feel unfamiliar to some students and parents. Some great resources for parents who want to learn more:

  • Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets book. Everyone who cares about math education should read this book. Here’s a review and a link to a sample chapter. A very readable overview of the research around teaching and learning math, by a leading scholar.
  • Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies by Christopher Danielsen, who also blogs about Talking Math with Your Kids. A short, practical guide that provides context for the goals behind the Common Core Standards, as well as specific tips for supporting students when they come to you with homework questions. While SGS is not bound by the Common Core Standards as an independent school, our students are very well prepared for Common Core-based math classes in high school.

Parents sometimes express concern about their daughters’ fluency with arithmetic. This is something we address in class through number talks and ample opportunities to apply arithmetic, but sometimes students and families want guidance on what more to do at home to shore up those arithmetic skills. Playing games is a great way to do this. Check out the Prime Climb board game, for example. There are also some great apps that are worth checking out: try Wuzzit Trouble for general number sense, and (if you’re an iOS user) some of the Motion Math games for integers and proportional reasoning.

Barbie Bungee in math

Students are applying their understanding of patterns and linear work to make a prediction of how many rubber bands Barbie will need to safely Bungee off the 6th grade balcony. Students are trying to give her the biggest thrill jump, without injuring her. To prepare for the jump, students had the opportunity to use up to 20 rubber bands to come up with a rubber band prediction for her 14 feet 5 inches jump. Many students found a pattern by looking at how far she could jump with 10, 12, 14, 16, 20 rubber bands.

barbie-bungee Assignment

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Parabolas in Math

This week in math we are working on graphing parabolas and learning about quadratic equations. Today, students played a game called Polygraph Parabola on Desmos, which is similar to the the game “Guess Who?” from my childhood.  Students notice and name important features of parabolas by playing a game with a classmate. One student picks a parabola from a set of 16; the other asks YES/No questions to try to narrow the pool down to one.

It was amazing to see the student’s vocabulary grow and watch as the questions evolved to be more specific using math language such as vertex, x and y axes, and symmetry. Here’s a screen shot of the types of questions that were asking. Students had to identify important features of the graph and then describe these features. Some of the descriptions were in their questions and others got physical and were gesturing across the room to their guesser, using arms and body language to help each other.  It was not only hilarious, but they were also talking and motioning about math! They loved it!

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