Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Calculus Christmas

So, I was sick on Christmas and had to spend a majority of the day by myself so that I wouldn't contaminate my family.  That gave me a lot of time to think and surf the Internet.  And since I was feeling in the Christmas spirit, I started poking around Google for Christmas-Themed Calculus Activities.  Well, apparently I'm not the first person to do this.  You can look for hours without end at horribly done Calculus-Themed Christmas carols on YouTube.  I've posted one of the better one's here for your enjoyment.  Merry Christmas!  =D

Using Stop Motion Animation in Math

So, I just couldn't help myself.  After posting this on Twitter earlier today: "I wonder how using stop motion animation could be used in a math class. I would love seeing some short videos on dev. math and calculus.", I decided to take a look around the web for what I could find out on my own.  This link from DreamBox Learning lists several resources from PBS that could be adapted for Developmental Math classes, and a link to a Stop Motion Works article.  Anyway, during my search, I found a few videos that I am sharing below.  Enjoy, and let the creativity begin.  And by the way, all of this started after reading an article about how to make your own playdough.

Maps and Mathematics

Just a couple of ideas that I think are interesting ways to approach the idea of using Maps to teach Mathematics.  I really think that the Map Application is a good away to introduce ordered pairs because students have to find locations such as A1, B2, etc., where there is a distinct order.  If you start getting students in the habit of thinking that the first coordinate is a letter and the second coordinate is a number, then it isn't as difficult to move to the first coordinate being the x-value and the second coordinate being the y-value.  And as for using Google Maps to Teach Elapsed Time, although the activity says Grades 3 – 5, I feel as if it could be easily adapted to any developmental math class.

Map Application.pdf
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Mathematics and Fashion Design

At IADT I teach a lot of Fashion Design students and I know that they need to be really good at math for all of the measuring that they have to do for their patterns and whatnot.  However, how to get them engaged in the part of math that isn’t as directly applicable is sometimes quite difficult.  This week I was reminded about this struggle when one of my students brought in a winter hat that he made for me that says “Math Rocks” on it.  I really love the hat and I will definitely be wearing it this winter, but I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t have more to offer him in terms of information on how math and fashion design are related.

So, I am currently on a textbook search and just ordered a review copy of The Mathematical Palette by Staszkow and Bradshaw.  I am wondering if anyone is currently using this textbook and could give me comments.  I also found a few Fashion Design career profiles and activities on the PBS website, along with a post on Wiki Answers.

Related Links

My Bamboo Pen and Touch


I'm really excited about my new Bamboo Pen and Touch.  I can tell you one thing:  My students were definitely jealous when I walked into the classroom yesterday and started setting up.  They saw how great it was and they all wanted to try it out and get it themselves — Especially when they realized how reasonable the prices are.  Already I can tell that this will be a great tool to assist in engaging students in the classroom.  I also think that it could be useful in the future for students to submit a question on-line without having to scan a page or learn a special program.  So, look for more to come from my new piece of technology after the new semester starts.

Social Learning Environment

Today has been a terrific day for the most part.  It was final exam day, but instead of grading exams as the students turned them in (which I probably should have so that they would be done), I spent the day surfing the Internet for new ideas to use for next semester.  And here are few that I have uncovered:

1.  Edmodo – Edmodo is a a Social Learning Environment.  It is something that I have been looking for, but not been able to find until now.  It brings what seems to be the best of features of BlackBoard together into what looks something like Facebook.  And best of all, it’s free.  So far, just through the few minutes I’ve put into exploring the website, I have found it extremely easy to set-up new classes, which they call “groups”, and create alerts, notes, assignments, and polls.  (Major hint:  I tried to use twitter with my students one semester, and it was a major fail.)

2.  Einstruction Mobi – Had I not already bought a portable document camera earlier in the week, I would have probably bought this on the spot, because it was only little bit more than I paid for the document camera, and I think it would be more useful in the long run.  Essentially eMobi is an interactive whiteboard for those who can’t afford the “real deal,” such as a SmartBoard.  A suggestion made to me by a colleague today is that I should buy a Bamboo Pen Tablet, as it is a very cheap alternative.  For ideas of how to use these in the class, see the Teaching Math with Technology blog and the Teaching College Math blog.

3.  Glogster – I heard about this website for creating web-based posters a few months ago, but became quickly discouraged when I found out that the Education Accounts were free, but with limited access.  And even the “premium” full-access account “without limits” has a very unnecessary limit of 200 students, as I may have more than that many students in a single semester.  So, for those of you who are willing to fork out the $99 a year to provide a special learning opportunity for your students, I salute you, and hope that you send me links to some of their work.

Math Vocabulary Becomes Art

I was researching the best way to use maps to introduce the topic of ordered pairs to a beginning algebra class, when I stumbled upon something totally different, and totally unique:  A website called Wordle that takes text and turns it into JAVA created art.  I actually threw the RSS feed for this website into their art generator (a wonderful option, by the way), and the results are below.  Immediately, my wheels started spinning about how to use this in a math class, and viola!  The nice people who write the Ed Tech 4 Math Blog Technology & Software For Teaching Math already have a nice post on how Math Vocabulary Becomes Art.  As you can see from my attachments, Wordle can also provide word counts, which could lead to a lot of discussion about word frequencies, etc.  Enjoy!  This also means that a future post is still coming about using mapping in the classroom.


Wordle word counts.pdf
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Making Math Fun

I was having a discussion with someone today about making math more fun, and a few websites popped into my mind that I haven’t shared on here before.  Let me give you a quick rundown of what I think are a few unique resources (all free, of course):

Exploring Space Science Mathematics ( – This website is from NASA and has activities on topics such as time calculations, decimals, integers, mean, median, mode, equations, and scientific notation.  I regularly use the scientific notation activities in my classes as a way to wrap up a section on the topic.  If I have time, they are great activities to do in class.  If I don’t have time, they are great activities to assign as homework (and I have no problems with students working in groups on homework).
Making Math More Fun Free Download Page ( – You need to check this out to believe how many resources are available on this website.  I haven’t used any of them yet personally due to having so many resources that I have developed myself, or that have already come with my textbooks.

Math OPS Targeted Math Instruction ( – All of the worksheets on this website are now free!  It’s mostly Algebra Materials, and most of them are worksheets based on the idea of “Famous Old Dudes”.  This will definitely get the trivia and history buffs involved in your class, as even my parents were getting into these worksheets when they were helping me print them out and hole punch them to go into a binder (It was a several hour chore, even with multiple people, which tells you how many worksheets are really there).

Math Comic Strips


One point this semester I wanted to have students create comic strips about math.  I tried creating one of my own one morning at 4 AM, but was unsuccessful.  My first attempt at a good one came just a few minutes ago, and I thought that I would post it here for inspiration of what can be done with  I think what would be even better is to make a whole bunch of these comics and then shove them into or  What do you think?