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International Math Salute

Last week, I attended my first Math Teachers’ Circle meeting of the 2015-2016 school year.  This is my third year to be involved in a circle, and it’s been a ton of fun.  We got to experience spherical geometry using balloons and sharpies, but that’s a post for another day.

international math salute

Today, I want to talk to you about the International Math Salute.  My first experience with this math salute was a math teachers’ circle workshop during the summer of 2014.  They had us stand up and follow along with the steps.  I followed along.  It was easy.  At least, I thought that until we got to the end of the activity.

I was so perplexed.  And frustrated.  And confused.  The facilitator encouraged us to try again.  I did.  And, still no luck.  Now, I’m a girl who loves math.  Just look at my blog title.  The girl who loves math should be able to do the international math salute, right?

Confused?  Watch this video by James Tanton.  Be sure to follow along.

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here.

Eventually, the facilitator encouraged us to work backwards to arrive at the solution.  I quickly forgot about this activity until we did it again at the latest circle meeting.  That was a Thursday.  On Fridays, I give my students something to figure out.  I decided this would be the perfect thing to have them figure out.

International Math Salute

Just like me, they thought it was all sooooo easy until they got to the final reveal.  It was awesome to see them trying to work through the process.

If I ever do this again, I will make sure I force my kids to problem solve a bit more before I re-demonstrate.  Some of the figured it out a little too fast which took the fun out of it.

If you regularly do brain teasers with your class, I’d definitely recommend incorporating this one.  Or, if you have a class that just can’t focus, you could do this as a quick 2-minute brain break to get students out of their chairs.

The only complaint that my students had about this activity was that it didn’t last long enough.  They wanted the warm-up to take longer so they didn’t have to do as much math.  Oh my…

More Brainteasers


Sunday 13th of September 2015

I got it!!!!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Monday 14th of September 2015


Susan Craig

Friday 11th of September 2015

Fun! I read your post during my lunch break, and shared the video with my afternoon classes. Good way to end a Friday! Some got it instantly and others left the room determined to figure it out over the weekend. Thanks for sharing! :)

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Monday 14th of September 2015

Glad you got to try it out with your students! Sounds like a blast!

Kathy H

Friday 11th of September 2015

Need to do this with my Math Club kids! Sarah - I think I steal everything you post - so much fun!!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Monday 14th of September 2015

And I feel like I've stolen everything I post from someone else!

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