Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our First Math MOOC

I follow a math blog called Mobeius Noodles, which I've linked to here before. It is written by two extremely intelligent ladies who share many ideas to make big math concepts accessible to very young children. I am also reading their book, "Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd" which I am learning so much from, and get their bi-monthly newsletter.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my email at the end of June to find a picture of my girls, and a quote from my blog! It was like meeting a celebrity. :D

You can see it here.

I recently participated in a MOOC (massive open online course) facilitated by Mobeius Noodles, called "Problem Solving for the Young, Very Young, and Young at Heart.". Each week, I was given 3-4 fairly complex math problems to present to the girls and document how they figured out the answers or methods.

The first week, we did well. We played with gears, played Flow Free, and used counting bears to visualize exponents, although Delaney didn't know that's what we were doing.

Sophie figuring out the gears with Dad...
The problem based on 2^100 really exemplified to me what the authors are expressing - that concepts that are usually taught at an older age in a not-so-hands-on way are totally accessible to young children if presented in a young child way. Delaney completely understood what to do next, and even played the game we made up together with the bears independently the next day. I also found that if you turn math into mamas and babies or kittens or food, almost anything is comprehensible.

Admittedly, I had a difficult time keeping up with the class. Some days, the girls were much more interested in just playing with the materials than paying attention to what I wanted them to figure out, but we will come back to those at some point.  Some of the problems were just plain difficult and I didn't know exactly what to do with them. My favorite problem was one that dealt with the concepts of true +true, and true + false. I used the three bears, and Delaney and I took turns making them tell 1-2 true statements and 1 lie, all truths, or all lies and determine if they were truthful or lying. It was fun. I am not entirely sure that we completely the task, but her computer scientist dad is pleased with her grasp of Boolean logic. :)
 And just for fun, a little video of our play...

I will have to participate in something like this again. Although I feel like I didn't do a fantastic job with it, the class stretched me and taught me a lot, and the girls learned from it as well.

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