Category: Algebra

Playing to Learn Math (new version)

I am at the Kansas City Math Technology Expo this weekend doing two talks. Today’s talk was Playing to Learn Math? I gave this at TexMATYC in the spring, but just updated it to add some non-digital types of play that you can use in the classroom.  There are five great math games mentioned in this presentation. Direct links to these games are below: NLVM Circle Puzzles (there are actually several Circle games on this page) Line Gem Factortris Flower Power (also, I quite like Ice Ice Maybe, a game about estimation) Waker Machinarium (this wasn’t in the presentation,...

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NYT Opinionator Series about Math

For a few months now, the NYT Opinionator Blog has been hosting a series of pieces that do a phenomenally good job of explaining mathematics in layman’s terms. The latest article is about Calculus (with a promise of more to come): Change We Can Believe In is written by Steven Strogatz, an Applied Mathematician at Cornell University. There are several other articles in this series, and if you haven’t been reading them, you really should go check them out.  Assign them.  Discuss them in your classes. From Fish to Infinity (Jan. 31, 2010) Rock Groups (Feb. 7, 2010) The Enemy of My Enemy (Feb. 14, 2010) Division and Its Discontents (Feb. 21, 2010) The Joy of X (Feb. 28, 2010) Finding Your Roots (March 7, 2010) Square Dancing (March 14, 2010) Think Globally (March 21, 2010) Power Tools (March 28, 2010) Take It to the Limit (April 4, 2010) Given the discussions we’ve been having about teaching Series and Series approximations lately on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I wonder if he’d consider writing an article explaining “Why Series?” to students. Possibly Related Posts: Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Elaborations for Creative Thinking in STEM Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport Recorded Webinar: Teaching Math in...

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Community Site for Algebra Activities

I rarely talk about the books I’ve written on this blog, but the Community Site [no longer available] for my new book, Algebra Activities,  just launched and I think it’s pretty cool.  Also, I now have an author page.  Yay! The basic philosophy for the book is to provide easy-to-use classroom activities to instructors so that they can easily replace lecturing time with more active learning.  The book also provides instruction tips and lesson plans so that any algebra instructor, especially new ones, can have a “mentor” to guide them and help them reflect on how students learn. Possibly Related Posts: Group Exploration in Math Level Up: Video Games for Learning Algebra Coming out of the Closet: I’m a Game Designer! Copyright Math Scale of the...

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Algebra is Weightlifting for the Brain

This was my presentation on Friday in Austin, Texas at the Developmental Education TeamUp Conference. The process of learning algebra should ideally teach students good logic skills, the ability to compare and contrast circumstances, and to recognize patterns and make predictions. In a world with free CAS at our fingertips, the focus on these underlying skills is even more important than it used to be. Learn how to focus on thinking skills and incorporate more active learning in algebra classes, without losing ground on topic coverage. Algebra Is Weightlifting For The Brain from Maria Andersen   I’ve loaded the uncut, unedited video that I took of the presentation to YouTube.  I’m not going to claim the video recording is great (recorded with a Flip Video Camera sitting on a table), but you’ll get to hear the audio and more of the details.  View “Algebra is Weightlifting for the Brain” here. Possibly Related Posts: Group Exploration in Math Elaborations for Creative Thinking in STEM Better to be Frustrated than Bored Video of AMATYC Keynote Celebrate the Errors in Math...

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Logarithm Graphs in Wolfram Alpha

At the Wolfram Alpha Workshop at ICTCM, there was universal disappointment about the fact that you cannot get a graph of a logarithm that is only over the real numbers.  We tried everything we could think of to remove the complex part of the graph. Personally, I have tried and tried and tried and tried to explain the problem with this in the feedback window for Wolfram Alpha, but been universally unsuccessful.   Every time I suggest a change, I am told that the “After review, our internal development group believes the plots for input “log(x)” are correct.” … yes, I know that … that doesn’t mean it’s the answer that most people will be looking for. I find it ironic that “inverse of e^x” produces the graph we’d like to see, and even gives log(x) as an equivalent. But then ask for a graph of  log(x) or ln(x) and the graph will always include the solution over the complex numbers. What’s worse is that W|A inconsistently decides when to use reals only and when to use both complex and real numbers.  For example, the output for y=ln(x), y=x includes the complex numbered plot, while the output for y=ln(x), y=2x-3 includes only the Reals.  What!?!  Actually, I have some idea why this is … it seems that in some cases, if the extra graph intersects the real part of...

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