What I’ve been up to (redux)

My time this summer was mostly occupied with a secret project which should be revealed very soon. I can say it has to do with Common Core.

I also have been working on my book project. I’m currently calling it How Algebra Works and it is totally crazy.

It is targeted at adults who had algebra class in the past but it’s now a tangled muddle of memories they barely understand. Every problem given is a puzzle — that is, it wouldn’t be out of sorts in a Martin Gardner book or the World Puzzle Championship. Given I am not fussing over standard schoolbook curriculum, I am doing my best to rethink everything from scratch with the goal of explaining how it works rather than providing technical proficiency.

So, yeah — easy to crash and burn. Hence I won’t talk about it any more until I’m ready for beta testers (both for the text and for the puzzles).

Finally I’m teaching at a new school now.

New Year type post

Some house-cleaning for the new year:

  • I have done a new blogroll shuffle; three high school teachers (Sam Shah, Jason Buell, Daniel Schneider), three college-level bloggers (Robert Talbert, Peter Smith, Mike Croucher), and one “idler’s miscellany of compendious amusements” (Futility Closet). The old Mathematics links in my sidebar have now been moved to my Annotated Blogroll. Please note the disclaimer that this is only a small selection out of many good blogs.
  • I’m working on a new video; feedback on my last one (Adding Logarithms with Austin Underhill, the Friendly Space Whale) would still be welcome.
  • Speaking of feedback, I do plan on posting answers to the conceptual counting test at some point but only if some more brave souls attempt answers (thanks to Robert Hansen for having a go; emailing me is fine if you’re sheepish).
  • The Visual Algebra book project is still alive, but I’m working on something smaller first (a novella, so to speak) as a test case that should be finished much earlier.
  • While I’m going to have radio silence from now until my MEAD Conference talk, here’s a recompile of my last Queue of Planned Posts, with finished stuff removed and new stuff added. Let me know if you want something sooner rather than later.

    Ancient math history:
    What’s the earliest mathematical artifact? (part 3)
    What’s the earliest mathematical artifact? (part 4)
    On the Ancient Egyptian Value of Pi redux (Do the Pyramids encode pi?)
    On the Ancient Babylonian Value of Pi redux (more information and scans from a tablet)
    On the Ancient Phoenician (Bible) Value of Pi

    Educational futurism:
    Textbooks of the future
    Classrooms of the future

    Logic:
    On alien logic [How one might think without AND, OR, or NOT.]
    Post’s lattice
    Set theory in paraconsistent logic

    Lesson plans:
    Teaching logarithms with Stevens’ Power Law [psychology experiment]
    Doing real mathematical research with high school students

    Psychology:
    Could mnemotechnics be useful in education? (These are the memory tricks used by folks at the World Memory Championship; failed attempts to reform education with them date back to the 19th century.)

What I’ve been up to

First off: my new job.

It’s a year leave of absence, not a permanent position, so no need to swarm me with posts about losing a classroom teacher.

I am teaching a standard College Algebra and team-teaching (with Jan Wehr) a class entitled Data Analysis and Probability for K-8 Teachers. This is part of a program for K-8 teachers to get a Masters in Math Leadership; it is aimed at raising the essential skill level of teachers in their own mathematics so that their teaching will be improved. Hence, it’s not a workshop where they get classroom activities (although I know they have scarfed some) but rather a way for them to learn new mathematics.

My best lesson so far started with a video

Based solely on the number of wrecks, is there anything mystical going on in the Bermuda Triangle?

(They used NOAA data and concluded that it was safer inside the Triangle than outside. The “thousands” figure quoted in the video appears to be pure invention.)

Classroom management in the College Algebra class is downright surreal. You ask the students to do something and they just do it. Who would have thought? It’s a bizarre fantasy-land. I don’t get as much time to experiment with pedagogy (3 hours week isn’t enough to get too crazy) but it’s still nice to be able to focus specifically on their weaknesses of the curriculum (I’m used to one of my primary questions for any lesson being “will I be able to maintain classroom management?”).

I’m also “taking” a class (Theory of Statistics) but I’m taking it in a meta- sense and will be working up a presentation on pedagogical connections.

I also do have time (and resources!) to work on research, and the backlog on things I can blog about is getting enormous. I promise some interesting things ahead!

Why to stop worrying about your blogging numbers

Here is a recent graph of my blog hits:

That’s a new record for this blog, in the 900s. It’s the result of my comedy post. It was simply a link to elsewhere and the product of about four minutes of work.

Meanwhile, my post on helping language learners read mathematics, the product of about 6 months of painful introspection, registered on my stats like this:

The former was a post getting a lot of one-shot visitors, whereas I imagine the latter was simply processed through Google Reader.

Moral: don’t worry about the day-to-day visits. Just write about what you want and eventually the readers will come.

(Kate Nowak and Sam Shah have good recent posts on starting your own blog, if you’re thinking of it.)

The queue

I’ve got a growing pile of things to write about. Post if you want something sooner rather than later.

Common core standards:
Comments on the common core standards (9-12)
What Common Core assessments might look like
[And one secret post]

Ancient math history:
What’s the earliest mathematical artifact? (part 3)
What’s the earliest mathematical artifact? (part 4)
On the Ancient Egyptian Value of Pi redux (Do the Pyramids encode pi?)
On the Ancient Phoenician (Bible) Value of Pi

Educational futurism:
Textbooks of the future
Classrooms of the future
Teacher networking of the future

Multiplication is not repeated addition:
The best article you’ll ever read on multiplication not being repeated addition [Note: educational study.]
Tarski’s axiomatization of the reals
The relationship between multiplication and addition via category theory

Logic: [Vote for this if you like the exposition posts on technical mathematics.]
On alien logic [How one might think without AND, OR, or NOT.]
Post’s lattice
Set theory in paraconsistent logic

Lesson plans:
Teaching logarithms with Stevens’ Power Law [psychology experiment]
Q*Bert teaches the Binomial Theorem
Doing real mathematical research with high school students
[And tons more.]

Blogroll Shuffle II, personal news

Some blogs have a “kitchen sink” approach to collecting blogroll links, and I often come to them when I’m looking for something new (JD2718’s is good) but I approach my blogroll with a “museum curator” standpoint, which means sometimes I have to rotate the exhibits. I have put in a fresh batch of 7 and added the old links to the annotated blogroll. (If yours has been left out, please don’t interpret it badly. This is just a selected assortment out of many very good blogs.)

I also have added a “puzzles” section, which is mostly filled with Nikoli-style puzzles. If you don’t know what Nikoli-style means, please try the links: you are missing an entire world! I would recommend starting with Grant Fikes. One the blogs (Mokauni’s) is in Japanese; save it until you are fully comfortable with the standard puzzle types.

I would also like to take the opportunity to mention I am taking a leave of absence next year to join the faculty of the University of Arizona. I will be working with elementary and middle school teachers teaching them how to teach mathematics, and developing an online curriculum to do the same.

Personal note

ard

[Source.]

Naomi
March 20th
6 lbs. 9 oz.

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