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    • Hello Everyone!

      I thought I would chime in before I go off to bed here in Toronto...:)

      So, my name is Sunil Singh, and I feel that my math life has had many incarnations/twists. So much so, that I believe the universe has my "GPS"...

      I was a math, physics, and occasional English teacher for 20 years. In 2013, I quit. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I was damn sure as what I didn't want to do--that was to teach a math curriculum that had little resonance with my heart. Quitting was not a popular choice among any of my friends or family members. But, I did it not just for me, but for my kids--an unhappy person usually develops an unhealthy body, mind, and spirit. This can lead to, without exaggeration, serious illnesses.

      I quit to find happiness.

      In 2014, I decided to create a math store/lounge/after-school program just north of Toronto. I had secured 5000 sq. ft in a beautiful, historic area called Unionville--The Right Angle was going to be right beside a chocolate store!

      This was the window display during Xmas 2014. As you can see by the ceiling, things were still being built, but I wanted people to have an idea of what was going to happen in Spring of 2015...

    • I lost everything. At the age of 50, that is not what I imagined from my life. That fire turned out to be a midwife to everything that has happened to me since. From the ashes of the building, I found a strange muse to start to pen "Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics". After that, other things began to take shape. Dan Finkel introduced me to Gary Antonick, Editor for Numberplay Blog in The New York Times. I became a writer there. I started to export the ideas of The Right Angle into Family Math Nights. I even did a few nights at The Museum of Mathematics. I know travel all over North America speaking and doing workshops with teachers and students on the mathematics that I love. My next book, "Math Recess: Creating Creative Curriculum in The Age of Disruption" comes out in 2019, and is a philosophical challenge in making...math(s) fun:)

      Like Dan, I already think math is fun, but there is a huge gulf between how fun math can be and how fun it really is in school right now. One of the things that first needs to be addressed in making it fun is allow conditions for "fun".

      Students--and teachers--need space and time to dabble in math. I am not sure why we feel everything needs closure after 45 minutes everyday. Why can't we give problems that stretch out for longer periods of inquiry--just like in the real world of mathematics. Solutions are punctuation marks. We need more emphasis on the "drafts", the shards of thoughts, coherent or not, by students...

    • Why can't we give problems that stretch out for longer periods of inquiry--just like in the real world of mathematics. Solutions are punctuation marks. We need more emphasis on the "drafts", the shards of thoughts, coherent or not, by students

      This is one of Sunil’s problems that I spent over four hours and multiple “drafts” attempting to solve.

    • A nice place to look for ideas is on Christopher Danielson's website, Talking Math with Your Kids. For kids that young, one of the most important things is not to rush it; make sure the kid is having fun, and has a rich environment to explore. The hashtag #tmwyk (tell me what you know) is a good one to see how people listen to kids. And listening and playing are the first steps for sure.

      I do sometimes use two questions to help dig a little deeper into mathematical thinking with young kids, and they are "How many?" and "What if?" How many is really one of several questions that can draw kids attention to ideas of number and magnitude. How many blocks are there? Which is bigger, that tower or that tower? Who is smaller, me or you? There's a lot of richness there.

      What if is even more flexible. There's an opening to experiment here: as in, what if we tried to build that shape using only the red blocks? Could we do it? What if I moved as quickly as I can? Could I go faster than you?

      You can also narrate your own thoughts out loud as you try out these questions yourself. The key is to avoid being pedantic and explaining. Set yourself up as a listener. And avoid asking yourself, "Is my child where they need to be?" Instead, ask, "How is my child thinking?"

    • Responding to Sunil now, I agree on the need to dabble. It's interesting, because I think there's an ethical reason, especially when it comes to equity, to use class time really thoughtfully and effectively. And yet, if you want people to build their perseverance, you need to give them time to struggle (productively, ideally), because that's what it takes to improve. Perseverance is a muscle, and if there's no time to persevere, we never get better at it.

    • As for my background, I'm a primary school teacher and I'm very proud to work with some inspirational educators in the north of England. I have taught thousands of children in hundreds of schools. I love being in the classroom and I also like developing innovative edtech content to make students lesson more engaging.

      apm wrote this wonderful bio about me, it is probably the most flattering thing I have ever read.

      "For those not involved in the maths education universe on Twitter, Drew is an amazing mathematician, educator and recreational maths puzzle expert. He’s been involved in multiple online learning platforms including which he co-created, and Maths-Whizz. Drew’s recreational maths puzzles on Twitter are regularly enjoyed by maths educators and their students. He is a frequent presenter at maths conferences throughout the UK.

      I’ve been a big fan of Drew’s recreational maths since I discovered them this summer and am thrilled that he will be participating in Saturday’s panel on How do you make maths fun?

      The wonderful apm

    • The last chapter of "Math Recess" is called "Why Can't We Be Friends"...

      For me, how to make math(s) fun--remember, it is already fun--answers a deeper question for me. Why Should Math(s) Be Fun?...

      In the end, for me, teaching/sharing mathematics has a social endpoint--to connect with one another. Last time I checked, I didn't connect too deeply with anyone through memorizing math facts like half-angle formulas or the product rule. Life is too short to, pardon my language, piss away time, valuable class time, and not probe mathematics in a collective spirit of inquiry--to connect with each other:)

    • One of my favourite aspects of working in education is giving up my weekends and presenting at Grassroots Conferences.

      I would like to think my workshops are truly unique. My starting point is writing a session that I would love to attend. I don't have to support exam syllabuses or even worry if anyone turns up.

      I think the last conference I did I wanted to share Dan's Prime Climb with 40 teachers, Dan helped me out with some great ideas. I then changed my mind... I wanted 40 teachers to play Prime Climb. This still has an element of sense until you realise I'd already written a different workshop weeks before and I was going to scrap it and personally make 20 Prime Climb set with a couple of day before the conference.

    • Here is a problem that opens "Math Recess"...

      When I go into classrooms, the Birthday Puzzle, is one of the first ones I open with--for many reasons. Who isn't going to be intrigued by how a "stranger" is correctly guessing everyone's birthdays by some "box-pointing"...

      I show the image below on a screen. I then ask students to find their birthday date--day only(ie, 07, 23, 29, etc) on as many cards they can. Once they have done that, I ask them to tell me which ones they found their birthday on. In about a few seconds, I tell them their birthday...

      I do this in rapid fire succession, not even blinking to capture the astonishment/disbelief on the faces of the students.

      The natural question comes up--HOW are you doing this?

      I ask..."Do you REALLY want to know"?

      Because the response is organic and overwhelming, I don't just give them the superficial answer of looking at the top left binary numbers. I tell them how this works, and for them to construct their own cards!

      This also creates a rabbit hole into Base 2, and other great Base 2 problems, which in turn creates further rabbit holes of playing in different bases...

      And so on...

      We want to create the "So On's"...:)

    • You'll probably have noticed that I haven't mentioned how to make maths fun!

      Maths is fun! Every teacher I meet knows how to deliver fun maths lessons.

      Unfortunately teaching in England is driven by passing tests rather than educating children.

      English schoolchildren undergo a range of tests from the age of five to 18:

      * Age five: Teachers assess children's all-round development against Early Years Foundation Stage profile

      * Age seven: Key Stage One standard assessment tests assess pupils in the "Three Rs"

      * Age nine: Key Stage One standard assessment tests assess pupils in the "Three Rs"

      * Age 11: Key Stage Two sats tests pupils in English & Maths

      * Age 16: GCSEs test pupils, typically in eight to 12 subjects.

      * Age 17/18: AS and A Levels test pupils in three to six subjects.

      If a school fails to attain aggressive targets the school will be shamed and loose all its funding.

      This maybe wouldn't be all bad if the maths curriculum wasn't completely focused on the skill sets needed for success in the late 19th Century.

      Teachers do have the flexibility to teach great maths lessons once they have ticked these boxes.

    • Drew, we’ve talked privately about the incredible work you’ve done in making mathematics more engaging, fun and meaningful for your students. Could you talk about how edtech fits into this equation? Perhaps you could share a video of what this looks like in action.

    • I love self paced learning. This was a live lesson that the students had never been taught before. The video gives an impression that I was lucky to have one of those classes that are always well behaved, this is far from the truth. There is one wonderful student in the class that was transferring to a special school as he/she was autistic with moderate to severe learning difficulties. The student was working over 4 years below his/her chronological age at the start of the year.

      The student nearly lost his/her place at a wonderful school for autism as he/she had made four years progress in my class in 10 months.

    • I should mention that I am completely biased about the resources as I had innovated this system of learner response and had written the entire website. I was honoured to work directly with the designer and the team of developers.

    • This video was earlier 2010... long before Menti came into existence

      Unlike the other video this is a completely independent production for a sponsored government TV channel, TeachersTV (yes, that was a thing in the UK). The producer and director and the crew travelled 250 miles to Preston, Lancashire to record this.

      It came about when the producers had sent out emails to schools in England enquiring about introducing innovative EdTech in lessons. My film was the case study of best practice.

      This was a real lesson and took about 90 minutes to film.

    • I should mention that I am completely biased about the resources as I had innovated this system of learner response and had written the entire website. I was honoured to work directly with the designer and the team of developers.

      Drew, I know this is a bit off-topic and that we’re wrapping up our conversation in the next few hours or so. But from being involved in learning system implementations, I know that it takes a rare set of skills to be the subject matter expert (SME) on a project and to effectively communicate with the design/development team and other key stakeholders. What do you feel is the biggest hurdle to creating a successful edtech solution?