This Week at Global Math – 1/14/20


Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Online Professional Development Sessions


Up for Debate! Exploring Math Through Arguments

Presented by Chris Luzniak


Imagine: Debate, often a humanities staple, as an integral part of your math classes. Debate activities have been proven to increase student achievement and understanding. So let’s explore ways to incorporate debates into everyday math lessons, from warm-ups to projects! In this webinar, we will develop short activities and routines for building a classroom culture where students are empowered to discuss and debate mathematics–tomorrow!

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 

Breathing Life into Geometry with Coding

Presented by Mike Larson and Ashley Goetz

Writing computer programs is an artistic way to bring geometry standards to life! Although it can seem daunting to teachers who don’t have experience in computer science, we will teach you the basics and you will leave with ready to use lessons that we have implemented in our math classrooms. So join us and bring this career-ready literacy to your students using Scratch and Beetleblocks. Lessons: Playful Polygons, Code-necting the Dots,The Math Behind Coordinate Animation, Solids of Extrusionm, Solids of Revolution

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed


Twenty Things to Try in Twenty Twenty.

It’s January. Nearly two weeks into the New Year and you may not even be able to remember the promise you made to yourself about how you would change in the coming 366 days. If that’s true, fantastic, because now you can pick from the list I have collated before and throw away your unrealistic, overzealous and imaginative expectations 2019-version-of-you had for your future self. Here’s a little challenge: Pick one of the 20 things below and do it now. The other 19 things don’t matter because you have already done one great thing for yourself and now you can laugh at all of the other dreamers who have had the same New Year resolution since 2010.

So, here it is. Twenty Things to Try in Twenty Twenty:


  1. Play with some Cuisinaire Rods (Simon Gregg – @Simon_Gregg)

    The reason this is first on the list is because if you don’t already follow Simon you need to immediately follow these two steps. First, shut your computer down. Second, turn it back on and open Twitter to follow him. Nothing must get in the way of you following the amazing things his students do. Cuisenaire Rods are just one thing they use regularly, but for me they were something I had never seen before. Now, I love them. I hope you do, too.


  1. Solve a Geometry Puzzle (Catriona Shearer – @Cshearer41)

    If I were a student in PE, I’d like my teacher to be able to play some sport. If I were a music student, I’d love to have a teacher who regularly played music and went to concerts. If I were a student learning Italian, I would like to think my teacher could tell me about Italian culture from a first hand experience. If I were a student in Mathematics, I’d be wondering when the last time they solved some maths for the joy of it. I think doing geometry puzzles are a great maths snack for teachers needing a sugar rush of joyful problem solving endorphins. Better still, send one to a colleague and compare methods!


  1. Create a WODB (Mary Bourassa & Christopher Danielson – @MaryBourassa & @Trianglemancsd)

    You might see Which One Doesn’t Belong prompts a fair bit in the #MTBoS. Why? Because they can be both simple and challenging to make. I always think that the first three boxes are quite trivial to construct, but the fourth is both the most difficult and the most fun. Make one for yourself or, if you’re too tight on time, challenge your students to make one after you have run a WODB in class. You might be surprised with what they come up with and the amount of thinking they do.



  1. Make an AB (Desmos – @Desmos)

    What’s an AB? It refers to the amazing tool for teachers called, “the Activity Builder.” It allows teachers to create their very own Desmos lessons and do incredibly cool things to turn up the curiosity dial in their classroom. Wanna make it even better? Check out this blog post on using the Computation Layer.


  1. Run an Open Middle Problem (Robert Kaplinsky – @robertkaplinsky)

    Don’t know what an Open Middle Problem is? Let me tell you, but first, order the book. By the time it gets delivered, you will be hooked on these problems and I can’t bear the thought of you waiting longer than you need to! They are one of the most prominent problem types I used in my classes. Check out now. Right now.


  2. Sign up for a Maths Newsletter (Chris Smith – @aap03102)

    Literally one of my favourite human beings in the world. Before you send a message to Chris to sign up for his Maths Newsletter (yes, that is the ONLY way you can get it), check out the songs he has made with his students. In. Cred. Ib. Le.


  1. Listen to Someone’s Math Moment (Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr – @MathletePearce & @MrOrr_Geek)

    Scrolling through the list of episodes these two have already pumped out on their podcast, Making Math Moments That Matter, you might be wondering how it’s possible for two people to do so much? Well, the secret is that in Canada the days are 28 hours long with only 45 minutes of sundown, so they do much more than the everyday Earthling. You might also want to count how many episodes feature an Adelaidean (100 points to any correct response).


  1. Be Woo’d (Eddie Woo – @misterwootube)

    Eddie Woo is my second favourite Aussie educator (first being my wife, of course). Why? Because I get to see him teach! Anytime, anywhere! Eddie records his lessons through his YouTube channel, WooTube. Australian Local Hero Of The Year and a tonne of other things, watch one of his lessons and reach for the stars. This guy is next level.


  1. Meet Henri. He’s the best (Henri Picciotto – @hpicciotto)

    Although he might not know it, I admire Henri Picciotto. I consume everything he posts on his website like a pelican (have you seen a pelican eat?). My words can’t do it justice, I just love the way this man thinks and writes. Check. It. Out.


  1. Do a Stand and Talk (Sara Van der Werf – @SaraVanDerWerf)

    Count the Minnesotans who feature on this list. They might as well be all of them because that place is a hot spot of amazingly talented and welcoming people. Sara typifies the incredible teachers I’ve met from her state. Specifically, she has spread the word a lot on her Stand and Talks. I love them, she loves them, everyone else loves them, and I’m sure you will too. Check out her Global Math Department talk on it!


  1. Create a Visual Pattern (watch the GMD talk)

    Who: Fawn Nguyen (@fawnpnguyen)



  2. Hear Someone’s Math Story

    Who: Michelle Nguyen (Desmos)



  1. Have a Debate (check out the book!)

    Who: Chris Luzniak (@CLuzniak)



  2. Meet the Math Minions

    Who: Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel)



  1. Read. Laugh. Keep reading. (check out the book(s)!)

    Who: Ben Orlin (@benorlin)



  1. Do a Fraction Talk

    Who: Nat Banting (@NatBanting)



  1. Get Retro

    Who: Kurt Salisbury (@kurt_salisbury)



  1. Learn Quadratics in a Way You Probably Weren’t Taught

    Who: James Tanton (@jamestanton)



  1. Solve a Riddle

    Who: Dan Finkel (@mathforlove)



  1. Catch the Underground

    Who: Underground Mathematics (@nrichmaths)


Written by John Rowe, @MrJohnRowe


The beginning of the new year always causes me to pause in reflection. I’ve never been really big on New Year’s Resolutions; I tend to set goals when I need them and they rarely have anything to do with the Gregorian Calendar. Yet, I do tend to reflect in cycles, similar to quarters throughout the school year, taking stock of goals met, changes noticed, and work that is yet to be completed. 

The year of 2020 may/may not be that great for a number year challenge (h/t Sarah Carter, @Mathequalslove & Joanna Stevens, @MrsStevensMath), and we are sure to be in for a WHOLE YEAR of Hindsight is 20/20 mentions. But the cliche did make me pause, reflect, and research my past to think about some things that I have unlearned, or are continuing to unlearn. 

Maire from New Jersey (@Maire_from_NJ) shared this sentiment by posting about four different things that she has unlearned and doesn’t do any more. 


Following her lead, below I’m going to share a few things that I have unlearned about math education and share an example or two as to why. 

1. I don’t think education, or math education is objective, neutral, or apolitical. 

I unlearned this quite a while ago, but the nuances to which the system of education is immersed in politics will, at times, come to the forefront of the public’s view. 

An example:

Dana Goldstein (@DanaGoldstein) shared a NY Times (@nytimes) article that gave evidence of students learning different versions of history through adaptations in US History textbooks that varied by state. 

In math education, Hema Khodai (@HKhodai) shares another great example, tweeting, “Sport is as neutral as math.”

When we pretend like mathematics is apolitical, neutral, or objective because of the answer-getting process, we forget that there are people doing the mathematics, and that this perspective matters in how one approaches any problem. 

2. I don’t think that research-based teaching is the “best” answer for every student in mathematics education. 

When a fellow colleague used to tell me about a routine or practice they were using, if I disagreed with that practice, I would generally ask, “Is that a research-based practice?” 

I was not a good friend. Don’t be this person, wielding research like a weapon against others. 

I unlearned this behavior through realizing that research is also not objective, neutral, or apolitical. There is so much that we have yet to even begin to research in mathematics education, questions we don’t even know to ask. The audacity of someone (young Lauren) pretending like the research-based tools we currently have in mathematics education are even close to exhaustive is asinine. 

To help myself unlearn the idea that research-based existed on a binary, I exercised this thought-process of unknowing: 

I know there are things that I know. For example, I know how to solve quadratic functions. 

I also know there are things that I don’t know. I do not know how to play the violin. 

But there is a whole category of things that I don’t know that I don’t know. I cannot give you an example in this category because, well, I don’t know what’s in it. If I could name it, it would no longer exist in this category.  

This is now how I view research-based teaching. There is SO MUCH that we have never researched, that we don’t know we don’t know about teaching. 

What is assigned to be “effective” is often politically or financially charged. 

Ironically, our whole system of accountability is set up on this binary, with “accountability” structures and evaluations aligned with “research-based” practices, despite many issues in education worsening since this change (e.g. opportunity gap). 

This idea is best exemplified in a tweet from Jenna Laib (@jennalaib).  


I think the idea of research-based practices is NOT to say, well this is the best we’ve got. Rather, the idea is to say, what don’t we know or who is missing in what we do know, and learn to ask questions from there. 

3. I don’t think that the world or your students can wait for you to decide about #1 or #2. 

As math teachers, we often teach using “real-world contexts” to help our students make sense of problems. How silly would we then look if we pretended like the real world didn’t exist? Why would we pretend to have amnesia that we are, first, human beings, that live in the world? A world that at times seems so fragile.  

We’ve got to stop pretending that we know nothing (unlearning #1) and at the same time know everything (unlearning #2). 

MRenee Wilson (@MReneeWilson) tweet sums this up:



I wonder…what’s something that you unlearned in the last decade? Use the hashtag #unlearnGMD to share the things that you have unlearned with our community. Be sure to cite your source for unlearning so that we can continue to unlearn with one another.


Written by Lauren Baucom, @LBmathemagician

Math For Your Ears

4 Podcasts to Dive Into This Year

For those familiar with the land of podcasting, you know that podcasts are an unending world of diverse topics and incredible interviews. So it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of incredible podcasts for those of us who study, teach, and delight in the world of math. Here are 4 to get you started. (If you’re brand new to podcasts, don’t let that stop you from exploring. I’ve included a little how to dive into the world of podcasting at the end).

  1. Math Ed Podcast ( Hosted by Samuel Otten of the University of Missouri. Featuring interviews with math researchers, this is a great way to learn about current studies in the field of mathematics.


  1. Math before Breakfast ( Hosted by teachers Tracy Proffitt and Ruth Erquiaga. With topics ranging from unpacking word problems, to interviews with authors and current educators, this podcast is like chatting with a couple of pals.


  1. The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast ( Hosted by Jennifer Gonzalez. This one isn’t a specific math ed podcast, but isn’t math connected to everything? This podcast includes topics about classroom and educational reform, ed tech, and teaching strategies.

  1. Teacher’s Corner (  Did you know Stenhouse Publishers has a podcast? Check out their interviews with current and upcoming authors. 


New to Podcasts?

If you’re new to the world of podcasting, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

How to Listen

Listen to podcasts on any desktop or mobile device. You can download episodes from loads of places, but a few favorites are  iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. 

In ITunes, head to the podcast page, search for the podcast by title and click on the show title in search results. 

An easy way to listen to a podcast is with an app (sometimes called a podcatcher). On an iPhone or iPad use the Podcast app already preinstalled.

1. Listen to an episode by first tapping the cloud icon to the right, allowing it to download, then tapping the episode to begin playing. 

2. Once you’re on the podcast page, press “Subscribe” if you’d like to receive a notification each time a new episode is released.




If you have an Android phone a few apps to check out our BeyondPod (free) and Stitcher (also free).

  1. Install your preferred app on Google Play.

  2. Search for the podcast by title.

  3. Once you’re on the podcast page, press “Subscribe” button so you’ll receive a notification each time a new episode is released!

    Written by Bethany Lockhart, @lockhartedu

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