Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#MathPlayDate Collaborative Recreational Math

I love doing math. Playing with a good problem, getting stuck, trying a new direction, seeing a pattern and testing it out, exploring a question I just thought up, and seeing the connections inherent in everything. It's inspiring and gives me so much energy!

I'm also very social. I have the most fun when I'm with other people. On those personality tests that include the extrovert/introvert scale, I often score as extroverted as is possible. Math is a field that is often thought of as very solitary. Some people really like to have time to work on their own and then only share their thinking later. I most enjoy exploring math concepts in the synergy of collaboration.

In college I did many of my proofs in the math lab. Working on the full wall white boards and sharing our thoughts were large parts of my experience. Hearing other people's ideas inspired me to think in new directions.

There are fewer opportunities as an adult to do interesting math problems together in community. A couple of summers ago I participated in a MOOC called Math is Personal put on by Justin Lanier, @j_lanier. He gave us writing prompts that got us thinking about our own mathematical autobiography which were quite interesting, but even more than that, he gave us lots of problems to explore with an encouragement to work together if that felt inspiring. I did some super fun modeling with Andy Pethan, @rockychat3. A couple of years ago Tina Cardone @crstn85 and a handful of others had some #mathplaydates. We gathered on a Google Hangout on a Saturday morning to work on some problems together. It often seemed to lead to collaborative spreadsheets.

I've enjoyed playing with the PCMI and Exeter Math this summer. Last Saturday I hosted a Google Hangout to work on the PCMI Day 1 problems. There were four of us and it was so very fun. Shoutouts to @nathankraft1, @Dsrussosusan and @Dave_Sabol!

As teachers we often see our own learning and exploration only through the eyes of our students. "How could I use this in the classroom?" Although this is always in the back of my mind, I enjoy recreational math for me. When I'm curious and inspired with my own interests, I am a better teacher. Relationships are important and for me the joy of doing problems comes through those connections.

Who wants to play?


  1. I will play! Great post Jasmine! I used to have my students do a math autobiiography on the first day of school. I think you have inspired me to re-incorporate this!

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