Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Innovative Approaches to Computer-Based Assessment, Part Four

For the past month, I've focused this blog on the role that computers can play in assessing students' mathematical knowledge. I've presented three Web Sketchpad-based examples of assessment with mathematical topics ranging from isosceles triangles, to the Pythagorean Theorem, to the slopes of perpendicular … Continue Reading ››

Innovative Approaches to Computer-Based Assessment, Part Two

In my previous post, I shared Dan Meyer's analysis of what's wrong with computer-based mathematics assessments. Dan focuses his critique on the Khan Academy's eighth-grade online mathematics course, identifying 74% of its assessment questions as focusing on numerical answers or multiple-choice items. This is a far cry from … Continue Reading ››

Refutation in a Dynamic Geometry Context

Michael de Villiers teaches courses in mathematics and mathematics education at University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. His website features a wealth of Dynamic Geometry-related books, articles, and sketches. He is the author of the Sketchpad activity module Rethinking Proof with The Geometer's Sketchpad. This blog … Continue Reading ››

Isosceles Triangle Puzzles

As readers of this blog can probably tell, I like puzzles. I especially enjoy taking ordinary mathematical topics that might not seem puzzle worthy and finding ways to inject some challenge, excitement, and mystery into them. This week, I set my sights on isosceles triangles. It's common to encounter isosceles triangles as supporting players in geometric proofs, but … Continue Reading ››

Dancing Unknowns: You Haven’t Seen Simultaneous Equations Like These!

When it comes to simultaneous equations, I like to push the bounds of conventional pedagogical wisdom. In an earlier post, I offered a puzzle in which elementary-age students solve for four unknowns given eight equations. Now, I'd like to present a puzzle that might sound even more audacious: Solving for ten unknowns. Oh, and … Continue Reading ››

Pentaflake Chaos

Dan Anderson commented on my Pentaflake post to observe that the pentaflake can also be created by a random process, sometimes called the Chaos Game. In this game you start with an arbitrary point and dilate it toward a target point that's randomly chosen from some set … Continue Reading ››

How do you make … a pentaflake?

A couple of days ago I got an email from my long-time friend Geri, who was spending some quality Sketchpad time with her 12-year-old grandson Niels. Geri emailed me for advice because Neils was having some trouble figuring out how to construct a pentaflake. Neither Geri nor Niels had any idea that I'd never even … Continue Reading ››

Danny’s Ellipse

In the early 1990s, Danny Vizcaino, a high school student at Monte Vista High School in California, wrote to Key Curriculum Press noting that Sketchpad did not come with a tool to draw an oval. Undaunted by this omission, Danny had built his own oval with the software and shared it with Key's editors. As shown in the interactive … Continue Reading ››