Speaking in Math Terms

—————————–“Words! Words! Words!” sang Eliza Doolittle in the musical My Fair Lady. “I’m so sick of words!” But students have to master the vocabulary of mathematics. This is especially difficult for those learning a new language even as they struggle with new mathematics vocabulary. The first two resources deal with mathematical terms themselves, while the other three offer classroom activities in Spanish and English.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids
This animated, interactive mathematics dictionary for kids explains over 500 common mathematical terms in simple language. Each term is illustrated and, often, accompanied by an interactive applet that makes visual and immediate the definition of the term.

Terms and Formulas from Beginning Algebra to Calculus
This interactive mathematics dictionary offers many terms and formulas appropriate for older middle school students. The illustrations, diagrams, and applets help define the terms every bit as much as the text does.

Biblioteca Nacional de Manipuladores Virtuales
This is the Spanish equivalent of the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Together they offer interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives, mostly in the form of Java applets, for mathematics instruction. On any page, users can easily switch between English and Spanish by using a drop-down menu.

Multicultural Math Fair
Here are ten activities used successfully in a math fair at Frisbie Middle School in Rialto, California. Each activity is available in English and Spanish. Links connect the teacher to information on setting up a fair and locating software.

Who Wants Pizza?/Quien Quiere Pizza?
A fun way to learn about fractions in English and in Spanish. Four activities, each followed by practice exercises, lead students to explore the basic definition of fractions and addition with fractions.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/03/2012.

The Wide, Wide World of Geometry

As the social studies, art, and music classes in the middle school widen students’ horizons, some of your students may become fascinated with the art, costumes, and customs of other peoples in this and other times. The NCTM Principles and Standards calls for middle school students to be able to “recognize and apply geometric ideas and relationships in areas outside the mathematics classroom, such as art, science, and everyday life.”

Here are some resources that can help you connect your teaching to geometry past and present.

Culturally Situated Design Tools: Teaching Math through Culture

This applet software is designed to show students how African, African American, Native American, and Latino cultural designs, as well as modern-day graffiti, are based on mathematical principles. Students can use mathematics to re-create existing patterns and structures, or to make their own designs. Standards-based lesson plans, evaluations, and other teaching materials are provided.

Native American Geometry
This web site focuses on Native Americans’ use of the physical, proportional geometry that originates from the simple circle. Aimed at fourth- to ninth-grade teachers, the site is divided into four sections: foundations, anthropology, designs, and education. You will find some 25 relevant web site links and 50 published references.

Ethnomathematics Snapshots
This web site has 12 short descriptions of the influence of mathematics on culturally relevant activities and products from around the world. These include lunar calendars, African counting words, Mozambican methods of laying rectangles, global three-in-a-row games, Native American petroglyphs, Amish quilts, Inca and Maori strip decorations, Inuit drawings, and Angolan sand drawings. Geometrical themes include iteration, recursion, tiling, symmetry, repetition, reflection, and rotation.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/07/2012.