Making Mathematics Meaningful

Tuesday, July 10

We discussed he possibility of changing the name of our group. Some suggestions included: Making Math Cool, Making Math Interesting, Making Math Engaging, Motivating Students with Math, Making Math Real, Connecting Math to Students, Making Math Alive, Bringing Math to Life, and Making Math Meaningful (M3). We took a vote and decided on Making Math Meaningful (M3).

Michelle reported on the Program Committee meeting.

  1. She shared that they would like volunteers to meet with the teachers on the International Committee who would be available on the last weekend of the conference. Josh, Gina, Dave & Dori volunteered.

  2. Extra copies of lecture notes will be on the web to download.

  3. Let Michelle know if you're interested in addressing specific issues during our 4:30 5:30 session. These sessions are optional including the 7:00 9:00 sessions.

  4. It's okay to miss a session here and there (as long as the "masses" don't sit out on sessions).

  5. Every working group will be doing a presentation during the 4:30 5:30 session of the last two weeks of the conference. Wed like to schedule a session during the last week.

Shelly suggested that we set up some time frames to meet all items on the agenda. 1/2 hour for each item remaining (three topics).

We brainstormed on the topic of what we think (as teachers) is of interest to students:

making money, transportation (vehicles), rap, travel, sex, making a C level in order to stay out of jail, having fun, partying, sports, feeling loved, movies, being fashionable, freedom, being cool, video games, having kids, safety at home/school, boyfriend/girlfriend (relationships), future goals, other people's perception of them, details rather than the big picture, shopping, religion/"cosmic" beliefs, and ethnic identity. Shelly suggested that we look at the list and try and categorize (subcategorize). Our condensed list included the following: entertainment/hobbies, relationships, who am I now?/who am I going to be?, money.

We decided to proceed with focusing on what math issues we could attach to each of these topics on our condensed list.


Slope skateboarding - radius of curves, gravity, velocity, rate, ramp design, basketball, parabolas and angles (golf, tennis), football passing, soccer kicking, nutrition, sports/body-building

Who Am I?/Who will I be?

Good decision-making (good citizenships), research, surveys, time management, substance issues (alcohol blood levels)


Fast food word problems, investments, credit, bank accounts, deposits, withdrawals, college costs, rate (unit rate and interest rate), cost of raising a child


Decision-making, time management, failure rates of birth control

After having spent an extra 10 minutes on this topic, we decided to move onto our second topic what are the most important topics we (as teachers) believe should be taught in our classrooms? The following list was compiled: rate, number sense, estimation, math notation, communicating (translating) math, logic and reasoning, interpreting data, graph, mathematical operations, order of operations, simple math operations, measurement, decimal/fraction, slope, tables, word problems, factoring, functions, finding and applying patterns, geometric shapes, functions as they relate to real data, derivatives, exponential equations, math modeling, limits, probabilities, organizing data, trigonometry, area, similarities, counting, prediction, different number bases, correlations, verifying accuracy, Pythagorean Theorem, and logarithms.

We decided then to choose what we feel are the most important of these topics listed (A, B & C with A being the most important). Each person read off their list of A's and we compiled a group list of most frequently mentioned topics. This list included: rate, number sense, communicating (translating) math, logic and reasoning, data, measurement, and patterns/modeling.

Shelly threw out the idea of making a matrix of our data with the columns being the topics and the rows being the interests. Michelle suggested that we come up with some activities that we already use in our classrooms to share related to these topics and areas of interest for our students and/or search the Internet for ideas on activities and lessons.

Lynette will make a table in Word and make copies for everyone to disperse tomorrow.

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IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute is an outreach program of the Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under DMS-0940733 and DMS-1441467. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.