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NCTM Journal Blogs

Each of NCTM’s three teacher journal blogs has been developed to expand on a theme or topic:

  • Math Tasks to Talk About in Teaching Children Mathematics  
  • Blogarithm: Standards of Mathematical Practice in the Middle Grades in Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, and
  • Joy and Inspiration in the Mathematics Classroom in Mathematics Teacher  

Blog posts are contributed by guest bloggers from within the mathematics education community, and all three invite comments from the field. Access your journal blog below and join the conversation now.



The Handshake Problem

I have the honor of being the “inaugural blogger” for the new Teaching Children Mathematics (TCM) blog, “Math Tasks to Talk About.” Now, to be clear, what I know about blogging could fit in a thimble with plenty of room still left for your finger. However, the talented staff at NCTM can take whatever I submit and magically make it blog-worthy, so here goes!

My absolute favorite math task to talk about is a classic known as the Handshake problem. Alternatively, you may know it as the How Do You Do? problem or the Meet and Greet problem or one of more than at least a dozen different names. No matter what you call it, this problem is my favorite because it can be easily made accessible and interesting to students at all levels, from first grade through high school! Read more.



The 20th Post

Welcome to the Blogarithm! We’re exploring ideas raised by the Standards for Mathematical Practice in the Common Core State Standards for the middle grades.

I noticed something while watching an eighth-grade class. The teacher was getting the students to notice the rule about adding exponents, asking them to figure out 2 4 x 23 and other similar cases. When they saw it was 27, and that you could, in general, just add the exponents with the same base, she asked them why it is always true. One student said, “Because you are just multiplying 2 times itself 3 times and then 5 more times, so it’s 8 times total.” They then did it for division (e.g., 27 ÷ 23 = 24), which was just a rearrangement of the same thing. Read more.



Light the Fire

Teaching is exhausting work, and on the wrong day it can quickly become exasperating. Classes are crowded, supplies are short, and the expectations of administrators and parents alike are soaring. What is a well-trained and well-intentioned mathematics teacher to do?

       The answer is in the eyes of the student.

You know the one—quiet, eyes on the floor, sitting in the back row and avoiding every opportunity to join the class discussion or volunteer an answer. But look closer and see the opportunity before you. That student, the one whom you struggle to reach, is both the antidote for your fatigue and the reason you teach every day. That student, in the face of all the challenges of the job that confront you, is your fountain of youth and your gold strike wrapped inside a backpack. Read more.


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