Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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August 5, 2007, 11:49 am

Have I found my core audience?

This post on the TV show Jericho has produced 13 comments, making it one of the top 5 most-commented-on articles I’ve posted here at CO9s. Almost all these comments are from new commenters. So welcome to all of you folks. I guess we’re witnessing the power of a Technorati keyword search at work.

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August 5, 2007, 11:34 am

Assorted thoughts from the airports

I made it back from Reconnect 2007 safe and sound around 11:30 last night, and without a single flight delay! I didn’t have wifi at any point on the way back — see mini-rant below — so I kept a text file with some running commentary while I was waiting for my flights yesterday. Here you go:

- Both the Raleigh-Durham airport and the Newark Liberty Airport have wifi… for $7.95 per 24-hour period. That’s lame. Wifi in an airport should be free. Especially in Newark, which has one of the highest rates of traffic in the world — and one of the most boring gate areas. I’m writing this blog post offline at my gate in Newark, because of the non-free wifi, in case you were wondering.

- I’m hoping that Washington-Dulles has free wifi, because I was counting on snagging a Jericho episode from iTunes for the 90-minute flight back to Indy (in the dark).

Update: Dulles has three different wifi …

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August 3, 2007, 8:00 am

Jericho

 Obrazky JerichoI found out during one of my interminable waits in the Charlotte airport that CBS has this site called Innertube, where you can view entire episodes of some of its shows for free. Included in that list of shows is the entire first series of Jericho, a drama that has become a cult favorite even though it was cancelled after its first series. I watched the first episode in the airport, and I was hooked.

It’s about life in a small town after a devastating terrorist nuclear attack on the United States. I have always been a sucker for post-nuclear holocaust fiction — call it a morbid holdover fascination from having grown up in the 80′s. Jericho is small-town slice-of-life drama, meets post-holocaust, meets government conspiracies — all in a neat, weekly serial package. This is one of the few TV shows I’ve made an effort to watch lately, and I’m not the only fan. There’s the Emmy-nominated…

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July 2, 2007, 1:17 pm

Monday lunchtime linkage

Here are some bits from around the blogosphere this morning:

  • Leo at Zen Habits says that David Allen, the inventor of the alternate lifestyle personal organization method Getting Things Done, has a GTD system that is way too complicated. And he (Leo) goes on to explain how to simplify it.
  • Presentation Zen (no relation) explains why the Japanese saying that one should “eat until 80% full” is not only good dieting advice, it also makes your presentations, speeches, and meetings better. Nothing ruins a good presentation than going five minutes too long.
  • Wes Fryer is wondering how schools should teach children how to do complex web searches and other nontrivial computer tasks. I made the point in the comments that Vernor Vinge, as usual, saw this issue coming a decade earlier in his short story “Fast Times at Fairmont High“. And I agree with Wes that executing a precisely targeted search…

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May 26, 2007, 4:47 am

Montessori-blogging

I’ve got some thoughts and a link to an article about Montessori schools over at Prone to Wander. This might be the first of many Montessori-blogging posts, as Doodlebug will be starting a Montessori school here on June 4.

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May 9, 2007, 10:26 am

Does all math look like this to some people?

WordPress.com has a random blog feature — a little button you can click on to see a randomly-selected WordPress.com blog. This is the one I just got:
Picture 1-9
Er, OK. I didn’t realize the entire Sanskrit alphabet consisted only of the question mark. No wonder it’s hard to learn!

April 17, 2007, 9:57 pm

House guests

This is slightly off-topic, but cool nonetheless: We found a surprise at our house on Sunday afternoon.
Pic 0002-1

It’s a bird’s nest — tucked away between the front door and the wreath hanging on the door. What’s more, we’ll be getting four new residents at our place soon:
Pic 0003-1

Now the trick is to avoid letting birds in the house when we open the front door.

April 13, 2007, 6:42 am

Friday motivation

Good one this morning from Indexed:
200704130639

I’m passing this one out to my students.