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Category: Thoughts about maths thinking

Anything about the thinking processes required to learn and do maths, especially those about problem-solving and communicating.

The Solving Problems Poster

This blog post is about the Solving Problems poster that has been on the MLC wall for more than ten years in one form or another. The most current version of it in handout form is this:

You can download this handout in PDF form here.
I’ve been meaning to blog about it for some time, but […]

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Sticky operations

This blog post is about a metaphor I use when I think about the order of operations: the idea that the various operations are stickier than the others, holding the numbers around them together more or less strongly.
The idea begins with the fundamental idea in arithmetic, that maths working proceeds by replacing something with something […]

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Replacing

I have had many people say to me over the years, “But algebra is easy: just tell them to do the same thing to both sides!” This is wrong in several ways, not least of which is the word “easy”. The particular way it’s wrong that I want to talk about today is the idea […]

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Changing the goal of the Numbers game

I conscripted the game Numbers and Letters seven years ago to help promote the Maths Learning Centre and the Writing Centre at university events like O’Week and Open Day. Ever since then, it has always bothered me how free and easy participation in the Letters game is, while the Numbers game is much less so. […]

Posted in One Hundred Factorial, Other MLC stuff, Thoughts about maths thinking | Tagged , |

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Number Neighbourhoods

This blog post is about a game I invented in February 2020, the third in a suite of Battleships-style games. (The previous two are Which Number Where and Digit Disguises.)
NUMBER NEIGHBOURHOODS: A game of analytic deduction
Players:

This game is for two players, or two teams.

Setting up:

Each player/team choose six different numbers between 0 and 10 (not including 0 […]

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Roosters don’t lay p-values

I’ve just started teaching an online course, and one module is a very very introductory statistics module. There are a couple of moments when we ask the students to describe how they interpret some hypothesis tests and p-values, and a couple of the students have written very lengthy responses describing all the factors that weren’t […]

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Which Number Where

Last year I invented a game called Digit Disguises and it has become a regular feature at One Hundred Factorial and other events. But before Digit Disguises came along, there was another game with a similar style of interaction that we played regularly, and this blog post is about that game. The game is called “Which […]

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The Operation Tower

I don’t like BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA and all of the variations on this theme. I much prefer to use something else, which I have this week decided to call “The Operation Tower”.

In case you haven’t heard of BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA, then you should know they are various acronyms designed to help students remember the order of operations that mathematics […]

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Digit Disguises

This blog post is about a game I invented this week, and the game is AWESOME, if I do say myself.
DIGIT DISGUISES: A game of algebraic deduction
Players:

This game is designed for two players, or two teams.

Setting up:

Each player/team has two grids with the letters A to J, one labelled MINE and one labelled THEIRS, like the […]

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Context fatigue

Context fatigue is a particular kind of mental exhaustion that happens after having to make sense of multiple different contexts that maths/statistics is embedded in. I feel it regularly, but I feel it most strongly when I have spent a day helping medical students critically analyse the statistics presented in published journal articles.
The problem with maths […]

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