DiscoverMath is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
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Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris

Author: Pam Harris

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Math teacher educator Pam Harris and her cohost Kim Montague answer the question: If not algorithms, then what?Join them for ~15 minutes every Tuesday as they cast their vision for mathematics education and give actionable items to help teachers teach math that is Figure-Out-Able.
52 Episodes
We are so grateful to be celebrating our one year anniversary of the podcast! It's been wonderful to hear all the feedback you've given us as you transform your classrooms. Here's to another year of mathematizing!Highlights:Ep 2: Pam's stance on algorithmsEp 9: Defining models and strategiesEp 34: Memorizing multiplication facts is not the answerEp 27: The students who need to know why 
We've had so much fun talking about fractions! In this episode Pam and Kim do another Problem String to demonstrate the effectiveness of a clock model.Talking Points:What denominators work well for a clock model?Problems that work with both money and a clock modelToday's students need the experience from learning with a clock model
How important is fractional equivalence? Important enough for another model! These models are fantastic for helping students develop a natural understanding of equivalent fractions.  Listen in as Kim and Pam discuss how to use a clock model for denominators uncommon to the money model.Talking Points: Use adding and subtracting fractions to help teach equivalenceRemoving the word "over" from fractions Equivalent fractions out of an hourA real math journeyJordan Using the Clock Model 
In this episode Pam and Kim finish up their money Problem String from the last episode. But first, Pam wanted to reflect a little on how she was less than helpful when Kim was struggling to think about nickels. We all learn and grow, and self-reflection is super important!Talking PointsDo you need time, or do you need help? (see episode 40)For which denominators is thinking about money helpful?Fractional Equivalence
It's time to talk about everyone's two favorite things: fractions and money! Fraction equivalence is a super important concept in mathematics, and it is best developed naturally in familiar circumstances. In this episode Pam and Kim use coin denominations to demonstrate how students can learn to reason about fractional equivalence. Talking PointsIf you understand fractional equivalence, you don't have to memorize any rules for operators of fractionsInterchanging use of decimal and fraction notation in a part-whole scenarioKim's uncomfortable relationship with nickels
Let's keep talking fractions! In this episode Pam and Kim discuss an extremely effective rich task from Cathy Fosnot to help students reason about fractions within the context of sharing fairly. Listen in to learn about the outcomes teachers should work towards when teaching fractional sense.Talking Points:Splitting into unit fractionsPatterns between same-denominator fractionsPatterns between same-numerator fractionsAdditional Sources:Field Trips and Fund-Raisers
How young is too young to learn fractions? Younger than you think! In this episode Pam and Kim describe simple ways we can help young students develop fractional understanding. Pay attention to how natural it can be for young learners to learn math!Talking Points:Simple experiences parents can use to help their kids develop fractional understandingUsing halves to get students practice with countingAdditional sources:Beads, Shoes and Making TwosGames for Early Number Sense
Time to get into fractions! There is so much to learn about teaching fractions and in this episode we wanted to lay some important ground work.  All too often we limit students to just one or two of the important ways fractions can be interpreted. When we help students fully understand fractions, their ability to think proportionally skyrockets!Talking PointsThe 5 Interpretations of Rational Numbers (Credit to Susan Lamon)Solving fractions with reasoning!Applying all 5 interpretations to one problem
Though some people think Kim and Pam's voices are hard to tell apart, teaching real math has nothing to do with a particular personality type or style. We believe in seeing the humanity in students and empowering them with mathematical confidence!Talking PointsPam and Kim's results on the enneagram test.How to leverage your personality to get support in teaching real math
If there's one things teachers like talking about, it's standardized tests, and Pam and Kim are no exception! In this episode Pam asks Kim about her experience with standardized tests, and how teaching real math helped Kim's students to succeed. Also don't forget to send in questions for our special 50th episode! We're so excited!Talking PointsCan students succeed on tests if all they know is real math?Everyone, in every demographic, can learn more real math than fake mathHow much time do students need to prepare for tests?It's all about know your content, know your kids.Learn about numberless word problems here:
Ep 42: Homework Pt 3

Ep 42: Homework Pt 3


In this final episode in our series on homework, Pam and Kim discuss what types of homework teachers should send out, as well as some important pitfalls to avoid. Talking Points:Pen and paper homeworkGames as homeworkUsing homework as a teaching tool, not for the sake of workHow real math changes homework dynamics
Ep 41: Homework Part 2

Ep 41: Homework Part 2


It's part two of our series on homework! Last time we heard Kim's perspective on when and what kinds of homework to give, but now it's Pam's turn. As a teacher for both high school and university classes, Pam gives an insightful look into when homework is necessary, but how we can always allow the humanity of our students to have precedence.Talking pointsWhat does the research say about homework? How does it vary by gradelevel?What is the purpose of homework?How much homework should students have?What topics should homework cover?The role of students' humanity in grades and homework.
Ep 40: Homework Pt 1

Ep 40: Homework Pt 1


Welcome to our first off the cuff episode! Pam and Kim have no notes this time and are happy to tackle the topic of homework. Turns out, they have enough to say that this will be part one of a new series! Listen in as Kim makes a confession, and Pam rats out her kids. Talking pointsWhen is homework appropriate?What kinds of homework should we send home?How can homework be helpful?
In this episode Pam and Kim discuss the secret to helping every student succeed. It's one of their guiding principles, and they can't believe they're only just now sharing it! Talking PointsThe problem with the traditional approach of teaching to masteryHow to address the personal needs of studentsHow to help all students growWhat are open tasks?What if students aren't getting "it"?
We made it to our final episode in our multiplication facts series! In this episode Pam and Kim share their secret to helping kids narrow in on facts they struggle with. This final episode exemplifies why we believe that through mathematizing students will naturally develop fact fluency.Talking PointsWhat it means to take the long view in multiplication factsThe importance of really knowing your studentsClue cardsFinal thoughts on fact fluencyShow links: Math-FlipsStick and SplitFind the transcript here:
It's time for what you've all been waiting for. GAMES! Sure we don't want kids memorizing songs or rhymes to learn their facts, but in this episode Pam and Kim bring the fun into multiplication. What games are out there that can help students develop multiplicative reasoning? We're glad you asked :-)Talking PointsWhat makes a good math game?What makes a poor math game?What are the best games today to help students own multiplication facts?LinksLive Problem Strings on Facebook LiveThe Product Game (Link includes games for other grade levels as well!)
Last episode Pam and Kim discussed how not to teach multiplication facts. So how should we teach them? This episode we look at multiplication facts through the lens of mathematizing!Talking PointsThe order that we teach content mattersThe order we teach the facts mattersThe key relationships students need to own factsHow parents can help their kids own their factsFree Problem String Download:
What are some great techniques to teach multiplication facts? What are the pitfalls to avoid? In this episode Pam and Kim discuss ways teachers may inadvertently 1) overemphasize speed, 2) introduce shame into their classrooms, and 3) focus on learning facts in isolation.  We've all made mistakes, and this episode is about learning and growing for our students.Talking Points:The negative effects of timed multiplication fact testsHow to avoid using shame as a motivator to learn facts (harder then you think!)Why learning facts as isolated ideas is dangerousFind this episode's transcript here:
In this episode Pam and Kim begin the first of another series: Multiplication Facts! What role can mathematizing and real math play in helping kids master their multiplication facts? Listen in as Pam and Kim outline the differences between 'knowing' and 'memorizing' multiplication facts. Talking Points:Why multiplication facts are importantThe difference between knowing and memorizing factsHow to get rid of all the stress around multiplication factsIs the goal to get through memorizing the facts, or to develop multiplicative reasoning?We recommend brushing up on episodes 5 & 6 in preparation for this series. Understanding what it means to develop multiplicative reasoning is so important!Find this episodes transcript here:
In the last two episodes, Pam and Kim did some really cool Problem Strings, but what do they think about Number Talks? Listen in as Pam explains how Number Talks and Problem Strings can go hand in hand for powerful results.Talking Points:Why call 'Number Talks' 'Problem Talks'?Short term uses for Problem TalksThe best use for Problem TalksThe purpose of Problem StringsWhen to do Problem TalksWhen to do Problem StringsWant to learn more about this powerful combination? Head to: this weeks transcript at:
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