Mathematics: What's the Big Idea?

Eight 90-minute video programs and user guide.

What do quilts have to do with palaces? When is a third more than a half? K-8 teachers of mathematics will contemplate these and other provocative questions in the workshop, which offers motivation and tools for teachers who want to explore new ways of teaching math. Using a variety of models, activities, and video clips, this workshop encourages participants to reflect upon their own practice and discuss ideas for innovation in teaching.

Program guides and supporting materials: (PDF)

Produced by:
Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory
in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation (1997)

Workshop 1 - Patterns and Functions: What Comes Next?
Guide: Andee Rubin. Mathematics is about patterns waiting to be found. This workshop demonstrates how students' explorations of patterns can grow richer and more complex as they move through the grades.
Workshop 2 - Data: Posing Questions and Finding Answers
Guide: Timothy Erickson. From the earliest grades, students learn to connect situations, data, and graphs. This workshops shows data displays that can be developed through the grades.
Workshop 3 - Geometry: Castles and Shadows
Guide: Andee Rubin. Shadows give two-dimensional representation to three-dimensional objects. Teachers discuss the intriguing relationship between two- and three-dimensional objects that are at the heart of geometry.
Workshop 4 - More Geometry: Quilts and Palaces
Guide: Beryl W. Jackson. Geometry appears in works of art, architectural wonders, and physical structures. This workshop explores geometrical figures, transformation, and connections to art and science.
Workshop 5 - Whole Numbers: Memory and Discovery
Guide: Timothy Erickson. What does it take to develop fluency with whole number calculations? This workshop compares algorithms and explores mental math strategies.
Workshop 6 - Ratio and Proportion: When Is a Third More Than a Half?
Guide: Beryl W. Jackson. Helps identify students' misconceptions about fractions that hinder their understanding of later concepts. Program participants work with rational numbers and activities delaing with ratio, proportions, and equivalent fractions.
Workshop 7 -Algebra: It Begins in Kindergarten
Guide: Monica Neagoy. This workshop traces the fundamental concepts of algebra that students can develop through the grades.
Workshop 8 - The Future of Mathematics: Ferns and Galaxies
Guide: Monica Neagoy. The advent of new technologies allows for amazing mathematics that could not exist without computers. This program looks to future directions for mathematics in the 21st Century.

Copyright (c) 1997 Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory