Monday, April 26, 2010

Blog vs Book

I've been neglecting this blog because I've been working hard on my real job for this year - a book, Playing With Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and the Internet. We don't have a publisher yet, but I'm still hopeful. I'm pulling together material from about 20 different people who help students learn math in innovative ways. I think it's pretty exciting.

I thought I'd mention the book just so you all know I haven't gone away. (I'm also working on a book review to post here. I hope to get that out soon.)

Here's a current draft of the table of contents. If I've asked you if I can use your blog post in the book, and you don't see it, don't worry, I still have to get that part organized. After the table of contents are some questions I have for my readers.

[draft] Contents

Preface 4

Introduction 6

Section 1. Math Circles, Clubs, Centers, Salons, and Festivals
Section Introduction 13
Sue VanHattum, Richmond Math Salon
Julia Brodsky, The Art of Inquiry: A Math Circle for Young Children Jamylle Carter, The Oakland Math Circle: A First Iteration
Maria Droujkova, One Day At the Math Club
Amanda Serenevy, Riverbend Community Math Center
Mary O’Keeffe, Creation of the Albany Area Math Circle: Great Circles Conference 2009
Colleen King, The Game of Math
Nancy Blachman, Inspiring Mathematical Interest: The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival
Bob and Ellen Kaplan, Letters to a Young Student
A Young Voice:

Section 2. Homeschoolers
Section Introduction 35
Julie Brennan, Learning As We Go 36
Holly Graff, One and a Quarter Pizzas: An Unschooling Adventure 46
Pam Sorooshian, Radically Sensible Ideas 50
Sue VanHattum, Recommendations (needs a title)
A Young Voice: Lavinia Karl, An Unschooler Goes to College

Section 3. The World Online
Section Introduction 58
Maria Droujkova, Making a Math-friendly Internet [not yet written]
Denise Gaskins, Let’s Play Math [hoping to interview]
Colleen King, The Game of Math Goes Online 59
Rebecca Zook, Zook Tutoring blog [post yet to be selected]
Kate Nowak, Blogging towards better teaching 63
A young voice:

Section 4. Classrooms
Section Introduction 67
Alison Blank, Math Is Not Linear
Chris Shore, Textbook Free: Kicking the Habit 68
Dan Meyer, Be Less Helpful
Ed Cruz [not yet written]A young voice? [Algebra Project students?]

Section 5. Diversity and other Public Policy Issues
Section Introduction 77
Patricia Kenschaft, Racial Equity Requires Teaching Elementary School Teachers More Mathematics
Danny Martin, Students’ Mathematical Identities [not completed] 84
Sue VanHattum, Girls and Women, Doing Math [not completed]
Melanie Hayes, Learning From My Kids: Letting Gifted Children Bloom 87
Recommendations: Bringing Passion into the Classroom [not completed]


A Collection of Puzzles & Problems 97
Jonathan, jd2718 blog, A Little Math Magic 98

Bibliography 99
Part 1. Fun Math Books For All Ages
Part 2. Recommended Books About the Teaching and Learning of Math
Part 3. References

Finding or creating local math alternatives
A note on online sites
Author Biographies 103

  • How's it looking?
  • What's missing?
  • Do you know a young person who might be interested in writing a short piece for the end of the classrooms section? (I may need someone for the Internet and Math Circle sections too.)
  • Anything else you want to tell me?


  1. Hi,
    About the table of contents... I am curious if each entry has some way to play with math, an example, a lesson, an online resource and descriptions of these that I can practically use as a home schooling mom? Or, is each section someones story or experience but doesn't necessarily lend itself to being repeated? I am curious.

    We've enjoyed your blogging very much as well as your participation in the Living Math forum.
    Karen G.

  2. Thanks, Karen.

    No, the chapters don't each have a lesson; they are mainly stories - to help parents and teachers re-orient themselves, and think of math in ways that will help their children learn deeply.

    There will be a few puzzles and lesson ideas, and a good bibliography pointing to other resources.

  3. this looks great.
    what a lineup!
    the "section" breakdown
    is a good idea: contents
    pages aren't as scary
    when they explain themselves
    a little along the way.
    section 1 needs
    a punchier title.

  4. I think it looks wonderful! I'm actually officially excited now.

    Since you asked ("anything else you want to tell me?"), I want to mention that one of the chapter titles pushed a button for me: "Learning from my kids: letting gifted children bloom." Now, I don't know what the actual chapter says. But I strongly believe the idea of "gifted children" is actually very bad for math education in general, and in particular for kids identified as gifted and also for minority kids. I believe the idea of "gifted children" only serves to disempower people. The essence of the problem is something I discussed a while back.

    There are lots of kids (when I was a kid I was certainly one) who should get every opportunity to bloom mathematically. But because they love mathematics, not because they're "gifted."

    All that said, I am reacting to two words in the title of a chapter I haven't read, by an author I don't know, so this digression might be totally irrelevant. But I'm passionate enough about this that I wanted to say something.

  5. Hmm, I agree with you in many ways on this, and yet I love this chapter.

    I think you might be able to help me resolve some of the issues that concern you. I'll email you.

    (The author had wanted the title just to be 'Learning From My Kids'. Perhaps I should have listened to her.)

  6. And thanks, Owen. I'll try to work on that.

  7. Best of luck with getting the book published. We will definitely be interested in getting a copy if/when. Have you thought about self-publishing on What about selling 'beta' version of the book? See for example the Pragmatic Programmers at

  8. Yep. If I don't get a conventional publisher interested, is my current plan. I think a publisher can help make it into a much better book, though. I don't know enough about the visual aesthetics.

    I'd rather wait until the book comes out to start selling it. If it's lulu, that will be pretty soon, I think. :^) If it's a conventional publisher, I wouldn't want to undercut the paper sales.

  9. Honestly? It feels a little scattered. What audience will be interested in all the parts?

    (Answering. Me. You. All these neat math people I meet through blogging. There might be a good-sized bunch of people for whom this strange mix appeals.

    And they are likely people I'd enjoy having a conversation with.)


  10. I've had the same concern ... and answered myself the same way. ;^)

    If a publisher expresses that concern, I may not have a good enough answer to satisfy them. Here's how I see it...

    For homeschoolers, I think almost all the material will be interesting, though if a homeschooler were the editor, it would be organized differently.

    I'm also hoping elementary teachers, even if they don't care for math (yet), will find it all interesting, because it's about how students learn. Any teacher who thinks deeply about learning knows that a classroom isn't the most natural environment, and searches for how to improve it. I think all the material will interest them.

    Can you see a better way to organize it, perhaps?

  11. Sue,

    unless someone external complains, I would leave it exactly as is. The audience may be a bit limited. But it may be a wonderful limited audience!


  12. At least two people, probably more, told me they wanted more math in the book. So the 'collection of puzzles' in the back turned into a puzzle or game (or something) after each chapter. It has been fun finding those to add. Everyone I've asked has said yes. It's coming along nicely. Still no publisher, though...

  13. Great idea! Can't wait to see it published.

  14. Hi Francisco, It should be out within a year. I have a publisher now, and the manuscript is much tighter than when I wrote this post. We're working now on illustrations and photos, and continuing to shape up the text.

    (I work very slowly on this during the school year - with all my other obligations.)


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