NCTM Workshop

The title of my 2014 NCTM talk was Further Beyond Sudoku: Using Logic Puzzles to Develop Mathematical Reasoning.

Da Slides. (this might make sense on its own)

Da Handout. (this will make zero sense on its own)

In my presentation I talked about the CCSS-Mathematical Practices and how they relate to the idea of mathematical reasoning and the writing of proofs. We looked at three examples of logic puzzles: Yajilin, Slitherlink, and a classic word-based logic puzzle. I  also developed and discussed a three-part framework for the stages of developing a mathematical argument:

  1. How do you know what to do?
  2. How do you record your thinking?
  3. How do you convince your peers?

I also laid this framework over Avery’s “The Life-Cycle of Mathematics” as a way of referencing the fact that each step was more complex than one question could contain. And, yes, I gave the full-disclaimer about using my husband’s work in my talk. Thank yew very much.

Overall, I think my talk went really smoothly. There is always a little balancing act you have to play in workshop-style talks with regard to pacing and I think I did okay with that. Most people probably would have liked more time to work on the puzzles, but I chose to move ahead so that I could finish my talk and get a little bit of time on all three puzzles. I think the variety of puzzles was pretty solid–though the first two were pretty similar to one another–giving participants a chance to try something new (or new-ish) and to do something a little more familiar as well.

I have discovered that getting participants to do more than just attempt to solve the puzzles is really challenging. This is something that, if I give a similar talk again (I may be pretty much done with this topic), I will focus on more. I was okay this time with just giving them the ideas and letting them have some fun figuring things out. As I said in my three-question framework, you need to “solve” the puzzle/proof before you can create an argument that will convince someone else. So, many people weren’t really “ready” to move on to the next step in the limited time allotted.

In other thoughts, the 8 am time slot on the first day of the conference is Capital-G Great! I loved getting in, giving my presentation, and then relaxing for the rest of the conference. I was much better able to focus on the presentations that I attended when I wasn’t stressed over tweaking my slides or worrying about what I was going to say/wear/do.

I’ve been thinking about ideas for next year’s conference in Boston–proposals are due on the 1st–and so far I’m drawing a blank. If there’s something you’d like to hear from me, let me know…


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