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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Teaching Math: Should We Personify Numbers?

When Professor Keith Devlin discussed the "behavior" of numbers during the Stanford Mathematical Thinking MOOC, it changed the way I thought about math and numbers.

When I used the notion of numerical "behavior" in class, I noticed that students began to think about numbers differently. They grasped the deeper understanding of operations and number relationships.

So now, at the start of the fraction unit, I'm going to personify numbers to help students understand fractions with greater depth. We'll essentially create benchmark fraction profiles like the one below? I can imagine that later students could turn these profiles into animations, short movies, skits, or stories to extend the learning.

Do you personify numbers when you teach math? If you do, what value does that process have? If you don't think this is a good idea, tell me why?