Circling to Connect

Building Math Joy on the Foundation of Math Teachers’ Circles

Math News Snapshots

Nitsa Movshovitz-Hadar

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Do you enjoy hearing a clever solution to an interesting math problem you were not able to figure out by yourself? Do you find a well-written expository paper interesting and fulfilling? Do you like a vivid presentation of a counterintuitive mathematical result you are not familiar with?

The Math News Snapshots (MNS) project is built on the premise that not only adult mathematics professionals, but also high school students, should have the opportunity to learn about and enjoy contemporary research in mathematics as part of their education. Quite often the hierarchical nature of mathematics does not make contemporary mathematics accessible to students’ active learning. On the other hand, ignoring the vivid and prolific nature of contemporary mathematics leaves students thinking that all the mathematics has been “done” already. Consequently, they often do not understand what it is that living mathematicians actually work on. We argue that learning about new findings is as necessary for widening students’ mathematical horizons as having them experience the joy of problem-solving firsthand.

MNS lessons provide a glimpse into contemporary mathematics tailored to be accessible to high school students. Each MNS is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation with suggestions for augmenting pre- and post-presentation activities. It is focused on a single result, along with its background, implications, and applications where relevant. (Please see the project website for examples.) We suggest interweaving MNS lessons one at a time, periodically throughout the ordinary curriculum.

The MNS project started in Israel in 2012 and has become well established there. For example, in the current school year, the Israeli Ministry of Education is supporting 83 high school teachers to disseminate MNS lessons. In 2017-2019 we have been carrying out a longitudinal study supported by the Israeli Ministry of Science to investigate the long-term effects of introducing high school students to mathematical news on a regular basis throughout their three years of high school.

Currently our team is looking for pilot sites and partners who are interested in bringing MNSs to U.S. classrooms. Please contact Nitsa Movshovitz-Hadar by email to learn more about the project.

More About Math News Snapshots

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This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2019 MTCircular.


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