Hello Fellow Teachers!
BEYOND INFINITY is a great resource for math teachers because it can achieve many goals. Need some reading-across-the-curriculum? Is your school worried about literacy? Want to add some reading to the math curriculum? Want to engage gifted and talented students? Want to help show that mathematics is a larger domain than mere repetitive arithmetic? Want to show discouraged students that math can be fun? Yes!
I taught middle school math years ago and I grew tired of students complaining how boring math was. I did my best to make math as fun as possible. As a responsible teacher, I tried probability dice games, created hands-on projects, took the students outdoors for kinesthetic math activities, played math computer games like Green Globs, used manipulatives, watched cool math-related videos and much more. Try as I might, the students kept moaning about the math itself.
It dawned on me one day that to a middle school student, math just seems like a lot of repetitive operations. A LOT. Many students do not experience or at least see that the entire domain of mathematics contains a vast variety of topics, skills and ideas. Until students push through a certain level of math education, they are often not exposed to things like number theory and the potential meaning behind numbers themselves.
I started writing BEYOND INFINITY because I wanted to share some of the coolest things I learned in the domain of mathematics. Listening to the book being read aloud became a favorite activity for my students. They really enjoyed seeing how math could be woven into a narrative.
Throughout the book you will find puzzles, potential assignments, and math concepts that worked well for me as a teacher. I think they will work well for you too. I initially used the book as a supplement to our math curriculum. When the students finished a test early or there were some spare minutes in class, I read them the next few pages of the story. When we came to one of the puzzles Matt had to solve, I refused to read any more until someone in the class had also solved the puzzle. I encourage you to do the same.
Here are some teaching ideas from the book:
1. Whenever you have some spare time in class, read a few pages of the story. Stop at the puzzles and either make an activity out of them or teachable moments.
2. Pay careful attention to the assignments that Matt was given. Those aren’t accidental and could be used as actual class assignments.
3. Have the students keep Numbers Notebooks. They can collect examples of how various numbers appear in nature or in their lives. See if the students can come up with a personality for various numbers.
4. Assign a student (or group of students) a number to study in greater detail. Have them collect as many examples of the number as they can and explain the significance of the numbers throughout history, art, mythology, etc.
5. Connect numbers to as many other domains as possible. Use “root numbering” and alphabet ciphers to connect numbers to letters and words.
6. Connect players’ numbers in sports to discussions about numbers. Is the number 7 lucky? Are certain numbers (13) unlucky? Start asking questions like: Have the best athletes of all time worn prime numbers?
7. Have fun exploring numbers as personalities. What makes an odd number odd? Why are prime numbers important?
8. Add great math videos from places like www.numberphile.com
9. Find more resources at my Scoop.It: http://www.scoop.it/t/math-fun
10. Use the BEYOND INFINITY WIKI: http://beyondinfinity.wikia.com/wiki/Beyond_Infinity_Wiki