Monthly Archives: January 2011

Personalized Learning Environment

I always get frustrated when I see articles like the Top 25 Web 2.0 Sites for Education because

  1. I don't have to look at them all.
  2. I'm probably already using most of them already.
  3. Some of them actually stink really bad.
  4. Some of them require a fee.
Well, you're in luck!  Since I'm taking a class in Designing an On-line class this semester, I'm supposed to be spending time seeking out websites for my project, so I painstakingly spent a little while skimming over all of them and seeing what they are all about.  I was getting bored, angry, and frustrated, until #18.

The article describes SymbalooEdu as "a great way for teachers to share sites and resources with students".  But it's actually more than that.  It's a actually a Personal Learning Environment Tool.  What's a Personal Learning Environment?  Well, if you don't know, it's making a comeback.  And I highly recommend that you read about SOCRAIT over at Teaching College Math.

For a short introduction to SymbalooEdu, either watch the video below, or head right on over there and get started like I did: (A place in which I am going to start organizing the growing list of links for the tasks that I must complete daily)!

GCF, LCM, and Order of Operations

In my Basic Mathematics class we just finished discussing the order of operations, and students always seem to have a problem with it, especially when division comes before multiplication (Sally has always told them otherwise).  Today we discussed finding the Greatest Common Factor (GCF) and Least Common Multiple (LCM), another topic that students sometimes seem to have a problem with.  I came up with the following problem, which sparked quite a lot of discussion in the classroom.  But more than that, I think it is the type of problem that continues to reiterate the Order of Operations, and doesn’t back students into the hole of forgetting what they have learned from one chapter to the next.


Jeopardy! ‘Body Count’ Category.

For some reason I happened to see Jeopardy on 1/11/11 and I found the category ‘Body Count’ really intriguing.  When you read the clues, I think you’ll find it intriguing as well:

  • 400 – Chambers of the heart squared
  • 800 – Usual number of ribs divided by 8
  • 1200 – Pairs of chromosomes times 2
  • 1600 – Permanent teeth divided by 2 and then multiplied by 10
  • 2000 – Number of bones in the average adult human body plus 0.

By the way, speaking of Jeopardy,  I found this FREE online “Make Your Own Jeopardy” Generator if you want to make a quick game for the classroom.  Now for the answers to the clues: 16, 3, 46, 160, and 206.  I didn’t get any of them right.  Apparently I know nothing about the body!

Additional Comment – Who thinks Watson could’ve gotten these correct?  (See and

Helpful Links for Teaching Calculus

Here is a list of helpful links that I compiled while teaching from “Calculus: Early Transcendental Functions,” 5th Ed. by Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards last summer.  These aren’t necessarily textbook specific, either.  Honestly, although it was just last summer, I was sort of still back in the dark ages and hadn’t yet made the jump into technology that I needed to.  But I can’t say that having these resources upfront wouldn’t help students.  Enjoy them, as I don’t post too much calculus stuff on here!

  1. Link to publisher’s website, click on “General Resources”.
  2. Link to Calculus Math Articles (I had students do article reviews for extra credit).
  4. Helpful Calculus Website (
  5. MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, everything you would want to know about almost any mathematician.
  6. Quick-and-Dirty Guide to the TI-83, TI-83+, TI-84, and TI-84+.
  7. FREE Calculus Videos, I approve these videos.  I think this guy is high quality.
  8. More FREE Calculus Videos, I also approve these videos.
  9. Link to website on Using Summation on Calculator.
  10. Wolfram Mathematica Online Integrator.
  11. Video Calculus at University of Houston.

Get Creative!

Sometimes a search for the weirdest things will bring you some of the the most useful things, like this, a link from Panola College of dozens of Free Web-based tools that can be used to spice up an on-line class.  So, do you really want to know what I was searching for?  It was a Google Image search of "Online Learning and Teaching in Comic," where the following, quite interesting image popped up:


Comment on a Few Useful Tools

This comment is more here for myself than for anyone else, as I keep on forgetting about them just because I don’t have them documented anywhere:

1. – You would not believe (or maybe you would) how much this URL shortener has come in handy lately to quickly and easily customize URLs to give to my students.  At one point I customized something with the student’s name because the student was afraid that he would forget by the time he got home.  You can’t forget your name, now can you?

2. – Free online file conversion.  I have found this especially useful to turn YouTube videos and the like into mp3 files and to simply download videos that would not normally be downloadable.  I know there are other websites out there that do this, but Zamzar keeps a record for you rather than just a one time conversion.  Nice.

3.  I think that the video below is awesome, so awesome that I figured even if you didn’t appreciate my two comments above, you would appreciate the video.

Mathematics Bookmarks and Brochures

As promised in an earlier post, here are some more examples of mathematics bookmarks and brochures.  Eventually (as soon as the end of this semester), you'll be able to buy some custom designed bookmarks from the STORE link at the top of this page.

And as for the brochure assignment, it has been especially useful for my older adult students who sometimes don't have as much experience using computers.  I've had to walk them through how to use Microsoft Word to create a template, but in the end they've all thanked me for teaching them invaluable computer skills that they can transfer to other areas, which was definitely not something that they expected to gain from a math class.