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North Louisiana Math Teachers' Circle to host national mathematician in residence

Kate Archer Kent

More than two dozen mostly middle school math teachers from Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes will convene in May to do math for the fun of it and attend the final meeting of the school year for the North Louisiana Math Teachers’ Circle.

LSU Shreveport mathematics professor Judith Covington launched the group several years ago. She says math teachers meet eight evenings during the academic year to work on problems in a casual environment.

The May 5 meeting will feature James Tanton, the mathematician in residence at the Washington, D.C.-based Mathematical Association of America. His topic is “exploding dots,” according to Covington.

“He starts with you’ve got one dot, you’ve got two dots. But at some point, the dots, if you have enough of them, they’re going to explode and change,” Covington said. “The exploding dots relate to how we can count. He’ll even use that to show how we look at some algebra ideas.”

The North Louisiana Math Teachers’ Circle emphasizes the camaraderie math teachers feel when they get together for dinner and to work on math problems, according to Covington. The Circle allows them to leave behind the politics of being an educator and become a math student for a few hours.

“It’s fun for the teachers to get together and do math themselves. I think so often they focus on teaching what they already know. Sometimes, they forget what it’s like to learn new material,” Covington said.

The North Louisiana Math Teachers’ Circle is supported by several grants. The May 5 meeting will be held at LSUS’s Bronson Hall.

East Texas also has a Math Teachers’ Circle led by math faculty from Stephen F. Austin State University. Its next meeting is set for May 27.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.