Category: Life in the Math Classroom

Group Exploration in Math

I am often asked how to get learners to spend more time “exploring” in their learning rather than just recalling or responding to specific prompts for information. Exploration of the learning space is particularly important because learners find the interesting nooks and crannies of the concepts that they would not otherwise discover. Let me share an example. Yesterday in class we needed to spend more time on exponential functions. I began class by displaying a graph of y=2^x and asking the class specific questions like “The graph of an exponential function has an asymptote, where is it?” Only to...

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AMATYC Keynote Notes: Interaction and Impasse

Thursday I had the honor of providing the opening keynote for the AMATYC Conference in Denver, “Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport.” I expect the video of the talk will be available to share next week, and rather than provide the slides (124 mostly stick-figure drawings), I’ll point you to some resources that will likely give you the information you’re looking for between now and when the full presentation becomes available. We covered three main themes: Interaction & Impasse (this post) Challenge & Curiosity Durable Learning I’ll provide resources for each of these categories, starting with Interaction and...

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Learning Notebooks for Online Math Homework

After teaching math at a community college for 10 years (and using online homework for at least 7 of those), I have noticed that my online math students don’t seem to have the same grasp on notation and the steps to “prove” the solution to a problem as when they did old-fashioned paper & pencil homework.  I have also found that the students who use online homework have become much more unorganized, and are unable to find the work for the problems they have questions on.   This last year, I’ve been experimenting with what I call a “Learning...

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Mastering Your Document Camera

My latest “Teaching with Tech” column is now out in MAA Focus. Take Another Shot at your Document Camera So, what can you do with that document camera? Possibly Related Posts: Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Clickety Click Click: Awful Measures for Learning The Importance of Findability for Learners Why Random Practice is...

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Math ELITEs (Classrooms for Active Mathematics)

Thanks to Diane, Gary, and Tom … who also contributed ideas to this classroom redesign project idea. Objective: Create classroom spaces specifically for a) actively learning mathematics and b) using technology to demonstrate, teach, and learn mathematics. A Mathematics ELITE is an Engaged Learning Interactive Technology Environment and consists of: 1. Multiple Whiteboards There should be enough whiteboards in the room so that 24-30 students can work in pairs at the boards. One set of boards should be lowered so that shorter students or a student in a wheelchair could participate more easily (another modification could be to use a portable whiteboard for disabled students). Students rarely learn mathematics from copying the instructor’s work. When students work on the whiteboards in class, it is relatively easy for the instructor to monitor the work of all student pairs at once, stepping in to answer questions, give hints, and correct notation. Students take turns being the writer and the helper, talking over the mathematics as they learn to solve new types of problems. With an interactive board in the room, one pair of students can record their work on the interactive board, creating a record (PDF file) of all the problems worked in class that day. 2. Document camera Can be used for displaying documents (i.e. worksheets, going over a test key, etc.). In a classroom with math manipulatives (i.e. fraction...

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