Montessorium – Math is all around us

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) took the idea that the human has a mathematical mind from the French philosopher Pascal. A mathematical mind, in her words, is “a sort of mind which is built up with exactity.” The mathematical mind tends to estimate, needs to quantify, to see identity, similarity, difference, and patterns, to make order and sequence and to control error. Young children observe and experience the world sensorial. Math is all around them from day one. How old are you? In one hour you will go to school. You were born on the 3rd.

The concrete Montessori materials for arithmetics are materialized abstractions. The child’s growing knowledge of the environment makes it possible for him to have a sense of positioning in space. Numerocity is also related to special orientation. The Montessori materials help the child construct precise and internal order.

Intro to Math by Montessorium elegantly adapts this idea for the use with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It provides several activities  to teach the numbers 0-9 and the concepts behind them: arranging a collection of rods from smallest to largest, learning how many bars are in another collection of rods, tracing numbers as they appear on screen, matching written numbers with rods, and matching dots from a box with numbers.

When Montessori meets Montessorium. (c) www.montessorium.com

Maybe Montessori classrooms will include some iPads with Montessorium’s apps in the near future. There is a great potential for an enhanced learning experience using different approaches to the same old idea: that math is all around us.

Intro to Math by Montessorium on the App Store.
Wooden Montessori Materials at www.kidadvance.com.

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Crossing the Universe on a Logarithmic Scale

Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames.

“Powers of Ten”, a 1968 short film by Charles and Ray Eames, is a quite impressive application of the logarithmic scale. The film is an adaptation of “Cosmic View”, a 1957 book by Kees Boeke. Both the book and the film deal with very short and very long distances and the relative size of things in the universe. Although Einstein wouldn’t agree with the trip, because very soon the camera travels faster than the speed of light, you should have a look at what it means to cross the universe on a logarithmic scale. Every ten seconds you will add a zero to your distance and stride away from earth by the factor ten: from meters, to 10 meters, 100 meters, 1000 meters and so on. Some minutes later and lightyears away you pass the nearest star. The way back is even faster and leads you through the skin and the DNA to the subatomic scale. Impressive! Enjoy the trip!

Cosmic View by Kees Boeke


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The Inconvenient Truth of School Reform

In America right now, a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. These drop-outs are 8 times more likely to go to prison, 50% less likely to vote, more likely to need social welfare assistance, not eligible for 90% of jobs, are being paid 40 cents to the dollar of earned by a college graduate, and continuing the cycle of poverty.

Will “Waiting for Superman” become the “Inconvenient Truth” of school reform? In his new film Oscar winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows five families, from the Bronx to Los Angeles, as they search for better schools for their kids.

This week, the film team released an infographic offering a visual narrative around some eye-opening numbers behind the movie.

Waiting For ‘Superman’ – An infographic-driven teaser

Some people are disappointed with the movie as Guggenheim seems to cast the choices for families as good charters or nothing ignoring numerous public school success stories. The director said it was never his intention to demonize teachers or unions but to make a film that was “tough on adults.”

However, “Waiting For Superman” illustrates the dysfunction of a system by giving some well known education statistics a human face and story. It may be a good starting point for a wider discussion.

Not a question of race, a question of the education system! (c) OECD/PISA

Further reading:

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724 Links To Mathematics Lessons And Activities

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website is full of mathematics activities. It also provides a reviewed list of hundreds of links to websites that are not hosted by NCTM itself. An editorial board reviewed and classified the weblinks collection. The users navigate the collection through five categories reflecting the national standards in mathematics education: Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability.

This is a great resource that curates the treasures of mathematics activities on the web.

Mathematics illuminated. (c) NCTM


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