MathEd Forum

June  5, 2020


Theme: Making Math Classes More Engaging

September 29, 2012 at 10 am- 2 pm
Fields Institute, 222 College Street, Toronto

NOTE: Use the provided link to download teaching materials graciously offered by Ron Lancaster who presented at the MathEd Forum in September 2012. The link will work for a month.


10:00 - 10:10 am.
Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMESG, CMS, and other.

10:10 - 10:35 a.m.
Dave Medd
(Centennial College): Spicing up the Bland - Making Standard Math Material a Little More Engaging (presentation)

Abstract: Most of what I teach (community college, semester one and two) isn't overly exciting mathematics, which leaves me trying to make it somewhat more engaging. From common topics with hidden subtleties (e.g. a review of exponents) to spots to slide in videos, humour or pop culture references, I hope to start a discussion on tips, tricks and resources to make a class/lecture more interesting. Just because what will show up on the test may not be entertaining, that doesn't mean its initial presentation can't be something to look forward to. At least a little.

Biography: Diverted from a teaching path shortly after graduation, Dave felt the pull to return about ten years later and has been teaching at the community college level for the past six years with forays into private high schools and tutoring. "Have calculator, will travel", as his sister says. As a graduate student, Mathematical Logic and Set Theory were primary interests and he remains convinced some interesting things from those, and other, fascinating abstractions can be effectively wormed into even quite low-level mathematics classes.

10:35 - 11:00 am
Miroslav Lovric
(McMaster University): Motivating students in a large life sciences math classroom

Abstract: Teaching about body mass index, or about strength of a femur, or about forensics figuring out the location of impact from blood splatters or about the spread of pollutants in Lake Ontario in my life sciences math class, I find myself thinking - this stuff is so cool, how can one *not* be interested in it?
It's things we must care about: our bodies, our health, our environment, our planet ... However, in the sea of faces in my classroom, at any moment, I can spot a few who are texting or checking their friends' status updates on Facebook (and not even trying to hide it as I pass by them).

Motivation is a tricky thing. In this presentation, I plan to talk about my attempts at stimulating students' interest in my classroom. What tools do I have at my disposal? Internet, real-life situations with real data, employment statistics of life sciences graduates, medical school acceptance rates. Does it all work?

Biography: Miroslav Lovric is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University. His areas of research interest include differential geometry, modeling in medicine and biology, mathematics education and connections between art, mathematics and architecture. Besides publishing in his research areas, Miroslav published textbooks on vector calculus and mathematics for life sciences, and is presently working on a book about mosaics and symmetry.

11:00 - 11:25 a.m
Doug Henrich
(Halton District School Board):
Practical Ethics: Developing a Social Conscience

Aristotle identified six basic qualities of human nature:

  • Common Sense
  • Intuition
  • Imagination
  • Reason
  • Memory
  • Ethics

QUESTION: What would a classroom look like where learners are encouraged to display and develop the six basic qualities of human nature?
ANSWER: A kindergarten or Grade 1 class.

Young children are hard-wired to learn and behave according to group norms. As they grow older, do they change or does our educational system change them?

QUESTION: How much laughter is there in your classroom? If there is laughter is it generally with someone or at someone?

QUESTION: When was the last time that you told a joke in your classroom or told a story about something that YOU did?

All too often in a diverse classroom we see Reason and Memory as the common element, and that is what we teach to. I will leave numbers 1 through 5 to you as all of you are experts in what you teach. I want to share with you my thoughts on how Number 6, Ethics, can be introduced and appreciated by learners in a diverse classroom environment. I will draw from my experience teaching ethics to Grade 10, 11, and 12 Computer Engineering students.

Abstract: Ethics is an important aspect of all students' lives. It is difficult to present ethics to students in a manner that both engages them and provides practical strategies that they can apply both inside and outside the classroom. This is especially difficult when they may not even know what ethics is or confuse ethics with morality. This discussion will outline an approach that has proven successful for high school Computer Engineering students in grades 10, 11 and 12. The complete paper and additional support material can be found on my course website [ ] in the Ethics folder on the home page.

Biography: Douglas Henrich has been a Mathematics, Computer Engineering and Computer Science teacher at Iroquois Ridge High School, Oakville, Ontario for the last nine years. He lives in Burlington with his wife Marianne, who is a vision itinerant teacher working with blind and low-vision students, and their cat, Archie. Prior to becoming a teacher, Doug spent over twenty-five years working within the police and private security sector and is a former Peel Regional Police Officer. Doug is trained as a CPTED Level I Practitioner (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), Use of Force Theory Instructor and has worked as a Security Analyst/Security Consultant where he conducted both CPTED Reviews and facilitated Focus Groups for a wide variety of clients. Doug has worked as a Law and Security instructor at Conestoga College, Kitchener and has served as the Vice-Chair on their Law & Security/Police Foundations Advisory Panel. Doug is also a past sessional instructor at Sheridan College, Oakville teaching Information Ethics to 4th year students in the Bachelor of Applied Information Science program. As well, Doug is the author of Patrol Procedures for Private Security Professionals (Pearson, 2001). Doug has presented on ethics topics at the Board level as well as for the Grand Valley Mathematics Association (November, 2011) and the Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators (OAME) in May, 2012.

11:25 - 11 :35 a.m.
Judy Mendaglio (Peel School Board): Use of blogs in math classes

11:35 - 12 :00 p.m.
General Discussion

LUNCH BREAK (Light refreshments provided)

1:00 - 2:00 p.m

1:00-1:25 p.m.
Ann LeSage (University of Ontario Institute of Technology-UOIT): Becoming Critical Consumers of Children's Literature for Teaching Mathematics

Abstract: Although research highlights the benefits of integrating children's literature for teaching mathematics; the benefits can only be realized if the quality of the literature utilized is sufficiently high. Unfortunately, most teacher resource books and published journal articles focus on how to use specific children's literature to teach mathematics rather than how to assess the quality of children's books. To further complicate this situation, textbook publishers often recommend books that are of questionable quality from a literacy and/or numeracy perspective.

  • In an effort to address this situation and encourage teachers to become critical consumers of the literature used in mathematics, I created two Reflective Checklists. One Checklist explores criteria specific to "Early Counting" books; while the other Checklist explores the literacy and numeracy criteria applicable to children's picture books. During this presentation, I will:
    introduce the two Reflective Checklists
  • invite participants to critique and share their analyses on the quality of a selection of children's books;
  • introduce a website ( developed for K-8 teachers interested in sharing lessons that integrate math and literature; and
  • Solicit advice to improve the checklists and website.

Biography: Ann has had the pleasure of exploring mathematics with pre-service elementary teachers for the past 10 years. Currently, she teaches elementary math methods courses and a course dedicated to improving the math content knowledge and efficacy of pre-service elementary teachers in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Through her research, Ann aims to better understand the fundamental components that influence the teaching and learning of elementary mathematics. Over the past four years, Ann has focused predominately on pre-service elementary teachers' mathematical knowledge; and the potential barriers and supports which may cultivate this knowledge, including short-term interventions (e.g., 9-week math content course) and the inclusion of technology and web-based learning tools.

1:25-1:50 p.m.
Ron Lancaster (University of Toronto): Engaging students with digital content

Abstract: We can touch the lives of our students and engage them in deep mathematical thinking by using digital content such as photos, videos and newspaper articles as the basis of the questions we ask and assign to our students. Ron Lancaster will provide examples and will Field questions about how teachers can use these ideas to engage and excite their students.

Biography: Ron taught middle and high school mathematics for over 20 years. He is now a Senior Lecturer in mathematics education at OISE/UT. Additionally Ron works as a mathematics consultant for international, private & public schools, educational organizations, and technology companies.

Ron sees mathematics everywhere and never leaves home without his pair of math glasses and camera so that he is always ready to snap photos of numbers, patterns, shapes, solids, curves and shadows. Throughout his career Ron has made connections between the mathematics curriculum and daily life in an effort to help students appreciate and enjoy mathematics.

Ron has been a presenter at hundreds of conferences, including the Phillips Exeter Academy Mathematics and Technology Conference; NCTM Annual and Regional Conferences; OAME Annual Conferences; East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools Conferences; and National Conferences on Graphing Calculators in Malaysia. The topics for his workshops address a wide range of issues such as connecting mathematics with art, music and literature; the use of photos and videos as a way of promoting mathematical enquiry; and the use of handheld technology, computer software such as the Geometer's Sketchpad and interactive whiteboards. He was a member of the grades 9-12 Writing Team for the NCTM's Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000). He created two columns (Media Clips and the Mathematical Lens) for the Mathematics Teacher published by the NCTM. He has designed Math Trails in Singapore's Fort Canning Park and the NUS Art Museum and for Math for America in Manhattan at MoMA, Museum of Natural History, Ellis Island, Bronx Zoo, Madison Square Park, NYU and Columbia University.
Ron is presently a member of the Advisory Board for the Museum of Mathematics in New York City.

1:50-2:00 p.m
General Discussion

2:00 p.m.

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