A math session is the heart of any Math Teachers’ Circle meeting. A two-hour session typically focuses on an interesting and challenging problem that encourages collaboration among participants with varying skill levels and backgrounds.
This page contains videos of example math sessions, filmed in summer 2014 at the American Institute of Mathematics during our “How to Run a Math Teachers’ Circle” workshops.
How to Use the Videos
The videos are set up as playlists of short clips drawn from a complete Math Teachers’ Circle session. The clips correspond to different activities or segments of the session and have been lightly edited to remove some participant work time and bring the overall length to approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes each. Each playlist includes a debriefing session with participants and is linked to relevant resources.
We anticipate that these videos will be useful to those learning how to plan and lead a math session, leadership teams of new MTCs, as well as experienced session leaders who want to learn more about a particular session.
Synopsis: Joshua Zucker (Julia Robinson Math Festivals) leads a session on the 1-to-100 problem. Along the way, many problem-solving strategies are revealed, including trying a smaller problem.
Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Synopsis: In this session, led by Tatiana Shubin (San Jose State University), a sheet of grid paper and a simple counting question reveal some deep mathematical surprises.
Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes
- Grid Luck, Tatiana Shubin
Middle school curriculum materials:
- Grid Paper Exploration, by Randy Lomas (Harvest Park Middle School; AIM MTC). Published in the California Mathematics Council ComMuniCator, 40(4), June 2016.
Synopsis: Brian Conrey (American Institute of Mathematics) explores the mathematics behind the card game SET, covering a range of topics including geometry, probability, and combinatorics.
Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes
- SET game
- SET puzzles at the SET game website
- SET puzzles in The New York Times
- MTC Session notes on SET (Brian Conrey and Brianna Donaldson)
- Game, SET, Match, MTCircular, Winter 2014
- The game of Planet, MTCircular, Winter 2014
- Sets, Planets, and Comets, The College Mathematics Journal, September 2013
Synopsis: Tom Davis (AIM Math Teachers’ Circle) presents a mathematical rope dance with two moves: twist and rotate. Given that “untwist” and “unrotate” aren’t legal moves, is it always possible to return to an untangled state?
Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Conway’s Rational Tangles, Tom Davis
- Understanding Rational Tangles, James Tanton
- Slides from a presentation by Altha Rodin (MTC Austin) on Rational Tangles using individual tabletop tangle cards
Middle school curriculum materials:
- Blog post by middle school math teacher Fawn Nguyen (Thousand Oaks MTC) on doing “Rational Tangles” with middle grades students
Synopsis: Joshua Zucker (Julia Robinson Math Festivals) presents an imaginary counting machine that explodes teachers’ preconceptions about arithmetic.
Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Synopsis: Led by Tom Davis (AIM Math Teachers’ Circle), teachers play with KenKen puzzles and sharpen their “fun-damental” math skills.
Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Synopsis: In this session, led by James Tanton (Mathematical Association of America), teachers explore the delightful and mysterious mathematics of bicycle tracks, solve some quirky questions about them, and also look at some mysteries still unsolved today.
Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- The Mathematics of Bicycle Tracks, James Tanton
- Hexominoes, Angie Hodge
- Creating New Problems from Old, Altha Rodin
- Exploding Dots (Version 2), James Tanton
- Mathematical Games, Paul Zeitz
- Scissors Congruence, Paul Zeitz