Category Archives: Uncategorized

February 5, 2010, 8:00 am

Friday Random 10: 2/5/2010

Friday music time again, and just about the only thing I’ve had time to post this week due to classes starting back:

  1. Texas Flood (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Greatest Hits)
  2. 40 Days (Third Day, Come Together)
  3. Who’s Been Talkin’ (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
  4. Man in the Green Shirt (Weather Report, Best of Weather Report)
  5. Waiting on the World to Change (John Mayer, Continuum)
  6. Where You Are (Rich Mullins, The World As Best As I Remember It v. 1)
  7. Heavy On My Mind (Back Door Slam, Roll Away)
  8. Try (John Mayer Trio, Try! (Live))
  9. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II)
  10. Doing It To Death (James Brown, The CD of JB)

Normally I would take one of the entries in the list that gets my attention and do a video focus on it. This time… Well, the classic Led Zeppelin chestnut “Living Loving Maid” (#9) makes me think of the fantastic…

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January 15, 2010, 10:45 am

Friday Random 10: 1/15/2010

It’s that time of the week again:

  1. Heart of the Heartland (various, Lewis & Clark soundtrack)
  2. The Maker of Noses (Rich Mullins, The World As Best As I Remember It, vol 2)
  3. Shot of Love (King’s X, Out of the Silent Planet)
  4. Something to Believe In (Clannad, Past Present)
  5. People Watching (Jack Johnson, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies (Curious George soundtrack))
  6. Cello Suite #6 (Mstislav Rostropovich, Bach Cello Suites)
  7. Miracles Out Of Nowhere (Kansas, Leftoverture)
  8. The Drift (Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Three Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
  9. Hold Me (Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits)
  10. A Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Personalidade)

“Miracles Out of Nowhere” by Kansas (#7) is one of my favorite rock tracks. Here’s a live version (I can’t tell from where or when, but it looks recent):

That song is appropriate for today, too, since it’s my son’s first birthday. He was a…

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December 30, 2009, 10:19 am

Resisting the urge to verify

When I am having students work on something, whether it’s homework or something done in class, I’ll get a stream of questions that are variations on:

  • Is this right?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • Can you tell me if I am doing this correctly?

And so on. They want verification. This is perfectly natural and, to some extent, conducive to learning. But I think that we math teachers acquiesce to these kinds of requests far too often, and we continue to verify when we ought to be teaching students how to self-verify.

In the early stages of learning a concept, students need what the machine learning people call training data. They need inputs paired with correct outputs. When asked to calculate the derivative of \(5x^4\), students need to know, having done what they feel is correct work, that the answer is \(20x^3\). This heads off any major misconception in the formation of the concept…

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June 6, 2009, 3:06 pm

Gender differences in math: Cultural, not biological

This report Frinom the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing an article in the June 1 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that differences between boys’ and girls’ performance on standardized mathematics tests correlates with the level of gender equity and other socio-cultural factors in the country in which the test was taken.
The study’s co-author says:

“There are countries where the gender disparity in math performance doesn’t exist at either the average or gifted level. These tend to be the same countries that have the greatest gender equality,” article co-author Janet Mertz, an oncology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a university news release.[...]

“If you provide females with more educational opportunities and more job opportunities in fields that require advanced knowledge of math, you’re going to find more women learning and performing…

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April 23, 2009, 8:54 am

A calculus thought experiment

On Twitter right now I am soliciting thoughts about calculus courses, the topics we cover in them, and the ways in which we cover them. It’s turning out that 140 characters isn’t enough space to frame my question properly, so I’m making this short post to do just that. Here it is:

Suppose that you teach a calculus course that is designed for a general audience (i.e. not just engineers, not just non-engineers, etc.). Normally the course would be structured as a 4-credit hour course, meaning four 50-minute class meetings per week for 14 weeks. Now, suppose that the decision has been made to cut this to TWO credit hours, or 100 minutes of contact time per week for 14 weeks.

Questions: What topics do you remove from the course? What topics do you keep in the course at all costs? And of those topics you keep, do you teach them the same way or differently? If differently, then how would you …

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January 15, 2009, 4:08 pm

You're missing all the excitement…

…if you’re not following my family blog, The Talbert Five. Just click it.

December 14, 2008, 1:42 pm

Ten rules for financing a transition to academia

My latest post at the Young Mathematicians Network blog is on how to get from graduate school to your first academic job without hopelessly screwing yourself over financially speaking, like I did. It takes some time for the post to appear on the YMN web site, so I will include it below the fold for CO9s readers (I should call this “premium content”!). (more…)

June 22, 2008, 7:19 pm

Top of the charts

You have to love this:

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

I’m not sure how I made it this far without GraphJam. Briliant stuff.

November 8, 2007, 9:46 pm

Questions about the algebra course

Jackie asked a series of good questions about the textbook-free modern algebra course and some of the student outcomes I was seeing in it. I tried to respond to those in the comments, but things started to get lengthy, so instead I will get to them here.

Do you think the results are only a result of a textbook free course?

To repeat what I said in the comments: I think the positives in the course come not so much from the fact that we didn’t have a textbook, but more from the fact that the course was oriented toward solving problems rather than covering material. There was a small core of material that we had to cover, since the seniors were getting tested on it, but mostly we spent our time in class presenting, dissecting, and discussing problems. We didn’t cover as much as I would have liked, but this is a price I decided to pay at the outset.

Most traditional textbooks don’t lend …

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August 9, 2007, 2:26 pm

iWork ‘08 brief once-over

Apple just made major updates to the software I probably use the most, namely iWork and particularly Keynote. I downloaded the 30-day trial (which makes me wonder why we can’t just download software from Apple) and have given Pages and Keynote a very (VERY) brief once-over. I hope to have more later. But for now, here are some first impressions.

They are really pushing Pages now as a word processor. Before, it was a little hard to know exactly what it was. Is it a word processor? Is it desktop publishing? Is it something in between? We didn’t really know, and I hardly ever used it unless I had a document to print that had a lot of graphics in it. But now, check out the updated toolbar:
Pages Screenshot

Mercifully, you can now adjust stuff like font size, typeface, aligment, etc. from the toolbar — no more click, click, click to navigate through those damnable Inspectors to do such simple stuff. Just …

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