Math Blogger Initiation Week 3

Week 3 of the New Blogger Initiation! After three weeks, more than 90 people are still blogging. Awesome.

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Joe B | lim joe→∞

Joe B @forumjoe has a blog named lim joe→∞. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Everything is Mathematical” and the author sums it up as follows: “I link to a new mathematical puzzle site called “Everything is Mathematical” and discuss the form of the content and how it will be useful. I then post my solution to the first problem, improving my Latex skills in the process” A memorable quotation from the post is: “I’m really impressed by the way Marcus du Sautoy presents the problem in an easy-to-understand way. There’s no pseudocontext here, there’s no anyqs.”

–> My take: Joe presents a really nice, accessible problem that could easily be used in the high school classroom – the question of how many palindromic numbers there are of a certain length. I love problems like this because I am totally biased to the application end of the spectrum in math in my teaching and I am looking for ways to introduce beautiful, rich, theoretical math into my curriculum. My favorite part of the post is that Joe makes a major error in his solution (one that I actually also made when I read the question) and graciously acknowledges this in in the comments. What a great model for students.

Joe Ochiltree | Brain Open Now

Joe Ochiltree has a blog named Brain Open Now. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Which Spawned the Title, “Brain Open Now” and the author sums it up as follows: “Not sure if I’ve ever explained the name of this here blog. “Brain Open Now”, you can see it right up there. So, what does it mean? I’ll tell ya.” A memorable quotation from the post is: “This sounds suspiciously like blogging.”

–> My take: Great blog name, taken from a great Mathematician! I really like this little vignette. Side note: I have actually been subscribed to this blog for a while now, so I was a little surprised to see it pop up for this.

Ana Fox Chaney | Make Math

Ana Fox Chaney @AnaFoxC has a blog named Make Math. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Computer Multiplication” and the author sums it up as follows: “I recently saw a video demonstration of “Egyptian Multiplication” in which the presenter described how both Egyptians and modern computers multiply using binary. It seemed so easy – I couldn’t resist the urge to take the technique apart and figure out why it works. Does it work with all bases? Is there a reason we don’t do all our multiplication that way?” A memorable quotation from the post is: “I like this because I talk a lot about multiplication strategies in my 5th grade classroom, modeling how multiplication works and what it means.”

–> My take: I really liked seeing Ana’s (Ana Fox?) thought process as she worked through Egyptian multiplication, comparing it to our modern algorithms in both utility and facility, and asking the all important question “WHY DOES IT WORK?” To be honest, I haven’t fully wrapped my brain around it yet, but it’s a great example of a perplexing problem that could be used with a wide age range of kids, one that grabbed me and one that might grab your students too, especially if you frame it in a mysterious, historical context. Also, Ana has ridiculously nice handwriting, something with which unfortunately not all teacher are blessed…

Mrs. W | Mrs. W’s Math-Connection

Mrs. W has a blog named Mrs. W’s Math-Connection. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Discovering and Teaching” and the author sums it up as follows: “In this post, I write about how I let my students discover the rules for exponents and the question I used that got them thinking even more about dividing exponents!” A memorable quotation from the post is: “I’ve been using some more challenging questions and my questions are creating some incredible questions and discovery.”

–> My take: I like the idea of a parking lot for exit slips. Mrs. W has a nice way of organizing and keeping old exit slips, which might be helpful. I didn’t quite understand why it was necessary that a kid park their answer in their specific spot (as opposed to just handing it in) but I am all about all things that make the classroom run smoother, and this seems to be a routine that helps her students learn. She also has a nice aside where she talks about how she motivates the need for exponent rules.

Stephanie Macsata | High Heels in the High School

Stephanie Macsata @MsMac622 has a blog named High Heels in the High School. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “When will we ever use this in real life?” and the author sums it up as follows: “I wrote this blog post about how I address the constant “When will we use this in real life?” question. It is important to me that my students find the value in what I am teaching them, or at least to try my hardest to help them see the value in math. I also wrote about how I try to handle situations when a student has been told that it is ok that they aren’t good at math because their mom (or dad or brother or sister or someone important in their life) wasn’t either. “ A memorable quotation from the post is: “It doesn’t matter what type of job you have or what is going on in your life…problems arise and you have to be adept at finding solutions to those problems.”

–> My take: Stephanie shares a lot of the same frustrations that we all seem to when faced with cultural acceptance of “being dumb at math” and reducing math to a utilitarian affair. The only thing that I think she leaves out is the idea that we should study math because math is BEAUTIFUL! There is a nice paragraph in this post where she talks about her view that anyone can learn math. Because of that, I can speak for everyone when I say that Stephanie, we’re glad to have you in the classroom!

Katie Cook | MathTeacherByDAY

Katie Cook @kjgolickcook has a blog named MathTeacherByDAY. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Why do we have to learn this?” and the author sums it up as follows: “Why do we have to learn how to do geometry proofs? Why do we even bother teaching geometry proofs?” A memorable quotation from the post is: “No one is sitting in 9th grade English class asking their teacher, “why do we have to learn how to read and write?” (or maybe someone is…I actually wouldn’t be that surprised)”

–> My take: I think Katie’s answers to this question are adequate, but she seems to struggle with something that really bugs me too – how do we teach curricular objectives on standardized exam well if we don’t really believe in them? I think that Katie uses a few too many external reasons though for motivating the math in her course, and I think it would be better if we could comment for her on some reasons why geometric proofs are worth teaching in their own right. Come on people, answer her call for ideas!

Scott Keltner | Good for Nothing

Scott Keltner @ScottKeltner has a blog named Good for Nothing. The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled “Remainders: Not Just The Rest of the Story” and the author sums it up as follows: “Bar codes are a peculiar oddity to me, especially those newfangled QR codes (which I’m still trying to research how to decode and encode manually without the use of a camera). This post makes examples of UPCs and ISBNs and the structure that makes them what they are, including the algorithms behind each. This post shows a real-world application for remainders when using whole numbers to compose a code structure. I’m still trying (unsuccessfully, at present) to find a real world application for remainders with polynomial long division, though.” A memorable quotation from the post is: “I created (what I felt at the time was) a good introductory worksheet on modular arithmetic, using students’ complaints about “always having the same thing for lunch” and made up a rotating set of dishes served in a neighboring school’s cafeteria.”

–> My take: This is a detailed account of where we see remainders used in UPCs and ISBNs. I found it really interesting that there is a crazy complicated algorithm for this, and I still wonder why they do it like that after reading it. It’s cool to see the math behind something that we use every day. Scott asks “I’m still trying to find a real world application for remainders with polynomial long division.” My response is “Good luck.”