Does blogging about your blog count? If so, this is post No. 61. I dunno. Hence, the asterisk.


Reflections in the Why debuted, in earnest and to much fanfare, in September 2011. Initially, I set a personal goal of publishing one post per month. Expect No. 62 in October 2016.

This look back comes at this time because (1) I’m introducing a group of teachers to the mathblogosphere on Friday, and (2) I missed the obligatory 2012 year in review post.

According to my WordPress.com annual report, the top two search engine terms that land users at my blog are tarsia and…

practice.My most viewed post? My 7-year-old daughter keeps beating me at Spot it! In this post, I wrote about walking away from the very same thing that, as it turns out, drives much of my blog’s traffic:

I finally asked, “Why am I doing this?” Okay, so the game might be fun for some students, but would it increase their conceptual understanding? Of course not. We’re talkin’ about practice.

And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? I ask because Canadians don’t have the best track record here.

I tend to write what I would like to read. The bloggers that I enjoy reading the most:

If tarsia or practice landed you here, in the same spirit of, but not necessarily in the same league as, the list above, I encourage you to check out the following:


My 7-year-old daughter keeps beating me at Spot it!

I have an excuse. While playing, I start thinking about the mathematics behind the game rather than the cards in front of me.

The goal of Spot it! is to be the fastest player to spot and call out the matching symbol between two cards. There are 55 cards, each with 8 symbols. Between any two cards there is one, and only one, matching symbol. How did the designers accomplish this? Sue VanHattum explores this question on her blog, Math Mama Writes.

In addition to thinking “How did they do that?” I started thinking about creating a smaller math version of Spot it! What if, rather than symbols, students matched equivalent expressions? A game might consist of 21 cards, each with 5 expressions (e.g., \sqrt {64}, 2^{3}, \dfrac {4} {3}\div \dfrac {1} {6}, \left( -2\right)\left( -4\right), and 8).

I began by creating 7 cards, each with 3 letters. While I was trying to create 13 cards, each with 4 letters, I finally asked “Why am I doing this?” Okay, so the game might be fun for some students, but would it increase their conceptual understanding? Of course not. We’re talkin’ about practice.

I have decided to walk away from creating these types of activities. It won’t be easy. The card stock! The laminator! The paper cutter! I love these things more than a grown man should. I’m quitting. Cold turkey.

But first, check out my latest Tarsia jigsaws…

factoring trinomials tarsia (normal)
factoring trinomials tarsia (larger)
factoring trinomials tarsia (solution)

rational exponents tarsia (normal)
rational exponents tarsia (larger)
rational exponents tarsia (solution)