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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.

Struggling students are exploring too

I firmly believe that all students deserve to play with mathematical ideas, and that extension is not just for the fast or “gifted” students. I also believe that you don’t necessarily need specially designed extension activities to do exploration — a simple “what if” question can easily launch a standard textbook exercise into an exploration.
This […]

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Trying maths live on Twitter

Once upon a time, I decided I would be vulnerable on Twitter. As part of that, when someone posted a puzzle that I was interested in, I decided that I would not wait until I had a complete answer to a problem before I responded, but instead I would tweet out my partial thinking. If […]

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Tutorials for an intro Arts course: Story makes sense of number

The Story
Sometime in the past, I was approached by academics in the Faculty of Arts to discuss the numeracy skills of the students in their faculty. They wanted to discuss how they might include numeracy skills in some of their courses across all the degrees they teach. It was a lot bigger than the MLC […]

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The second part of the Four Fours

The Back Story
The four fours is a rather famous little puzzle which goes something like this:
Using exactly four of the number 4 each time, write calculations using +, -, *, / that produce each of the natural numbers from 0 to 20.
It’s a classic puzzle that requires some creativity and also gets people thinking about […]

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The Seven Sticks and what mathematics is

This week I provided games and puzzles at a welcome lunch for new students in the Mathematical Sciences degree programs. I had big logic puzzles and maths toys and also a list of some of my eight most favourite puzzles on tables with paper tablecloths to write on.
One of the puzzles is the Seven Sticks […]

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Zooming in to see the slope

A lot of people introduce the derivative at a point as the slope of the tangent at that point, which to me is quite confusing. It seems to me that the reason we want the derivative is that it is a measure of the slope of our actual function at that point, not the slope […]

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The Number Dress-Up Party

I created the Number Dress-Up Party puzzle way back in 2017 and every so often I stumble across it again when searching Twitter for other stuff. When I stumbled across it today, I decided it was time to write it up in a blog post.
The puzzle goes like this:
The Number Dress-Up Party
All the numbers have […]

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Who is worthy to ask stupid and smart questions?

This post was going to be part of the Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavours, which you can see all the keynote speakers and presentations here: https://samjshah.com/mathematical-flavors-convention-center/. The prompt for all the blog posts that are part of this conference is this: “How does your class move the needle on what your kids think about the doing of math, or what counts as […]

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TMC Crochet Coral Quietness

Here is another blog post in my series of only-a-year-late posts about Twitter Math Camp 2017 (TMC17). In this one I want to talk about the Crochet Coral workshops Megan and I did, but I don’t want to actually talk about the crochet coral. Instead I want to talk about the quietness.
TMC was a wild wild […]

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The unexpected fear of statistics

Statistics is the cause of a lot of fear. There are thousands of students studying psychology, sociology, economics, biology, medicine, animal science and education who thought they would be free of mathematics and suddenly discover they have to deal with statistics. In the case of psychology it is absolutely everywhere: both in whole courses about statistics, […]

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