Monthly Archives: May 2011

Using UJAM to Automatically Add Music to Everything.

I just Stumbled Upon this tool called UJAM, which takes vocals and actually adds appropriate background music.  I decided to push the envelope by simply just reading the instructions to one of the recent assignments that I did with one of my classes to see what it could do with spoken word.  I think that it ended up doing very well.  I would definitely use UJAM in the future to read instructions to students in an online class.  I might not pick the same musical-style (Yes, you get to pick), but hopefully you can see where I am going with this.

Listen on Posterous

Web-Based Tool to Quickly Make Venn Diagrams

I just learned about a free web-based tool called ‘Crappy Graphs’ ( that if you’re not trying to make a crappy graph, would actually be quite useful to quickly make a Line Graph or a Venn Diagram to illustrate concepts in logic, set theory, etc.  I’ve included a few examples of what it can do.

After note:  You may want to check out as well.

An Array of Media — Video and Audio Clips

1.  JotForm Introductory Video

3.  Calculus Rhapsody (I know this isn’t new, but… a friend who is teaching Calculus this summer asked for a link.)

4.  Math:  It’s Everywhere

5.  A Short List of Great YouTube Channels

Rush Hour! Ohhh Yeah!

This free on-line version of the Rush Hour Game was originally posted here at the MathCounts website (, who in turn got it in from the ThinkFun website (

I remember when I first got the ‘real version’ of this game on a road trip during a family reunion in Canada.  Warning: This game is addictive and can be very frustrating at times.

I highly reccommend this game.  I think it would make a great logic game for the classroom.

My Summer Plans

I have a very hectic summer ahead of me.  I have vowed not to slow down just because summer has arrived.  If you’re bored and have nothing to do this summer, think of me and all that I will be doing —

1.  Conferences:  One of my goals for this summer is to attend as many conferences as possible for my own professional development purposes.  The ones that I’ve registered for so far are:
  • MAA Conference, May 6 – 7, Kalamazoo, MI
  • ACMS Conference, June 1 – 4, Santa Barbara, CA
  • MCC Math and Technology Conference, August 8 – 12, Muskegon, MI
2.  Teaching:  Another one of my goals for the summer is to improve the courses that I am teaching.  The summer is an opportune time for me to do so because I encounter issues that I wouldn’t otherwise encounter since the classes are accelerated and I actually have time to deal with them since I don’t have as much other ‘stuff’ to deal with.  My teaching schedule so far is:
  • Preparation for Algebra (May – August)
  • Statistics (July – August)
  • Introduction to Math Systems (Online)
  • Beginning Algebra (July – August)
  • Intermediate Algebra (July – August)
3.  Local Events and Community Involvement:  Yes, I really want to get involved in my own community, and here are a few of the ways that I plan to do so this summer:
  • Volunteer with Friends of the Library to update membership database
  • Attend local Green Living Festival
  • Support Friends of the Library summer used book sale
  • Attend Rochester Heritage Days, Rochester River Days, Rochester Music in the Park, and Rochester Movies in the Moonlight
4.  Celebrate the Summer Holidays with Family:  Do I even need to remind you about all of the upcoming holidays?  Maybe I should in the event that you need to pick up something that you might have forgotten:
  • Mother’s Day (possible trip to African Safari Wildlife Park in Ohio)
  • Memorial Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • My Birthday (and my mom’s the day after mine)
5.  Ohhh… and I did I forget to mention that I’m taking a class, too?  The class I’m taking is called ‘Perspectives on Instructional Technology’ and over the course of the next 7 weeks, I have to write 7 short essays on the following topics, all of which I will share with you along the way as well: 
  • Is the goal of educational research to produce generalizable findings?
  • Is effective use of technology primarily a matter of technical skills?
  • Should teachers be required to use online learning and teaching technologies?
  • What is the biggest problem in using the Web as a resource in K-12 education?
  • Do digital technologies represent a decisive break with past educational technologies?
  • What does research tell us are the best practices in online learning and teaching?
  • What is the most important challenge we face reinventing schools for a digital future?
 And in a nutshell, that’s my summer. 

Student Perception of an Uncaring Instructor

This has been an exceptionally frustrating semester for me.  If possible, I try not to make a major issue out of student behavior during class.  However, this semester there has been so much rude behavior in many of my classes that I have felt no choice but to step in and try to put a new calm to the environment for the good of the class as a whole.

There is one student in particular who has been on my mind lately for constant illogical, irrelevant, and irreverent comments before, during, after, and outside of class.  This student has about a 33% attendance record.  I would say the student shows up to class maybe 1 out of 3 days a week, and when in class often times argues that the pace of the class is too fast, sleeps during about 80% of the class, and then afterwards tries to set up an appointment with me for tutoring on the missed material.

I have another class immediately after this class, and so I never have time to talk to this student for the length of time it would take to get through all of the circular arguments that always arise.  So, I ask the student to e-mail me with a time to set up an appointment to discuss what to do.  However, from this particular student's perspective, I come off as an uncaring instructor because I never stay after class to address student concerns.

Usually I wouldn't let this bother me, especially coming from an argumentative student with a poor attendance record who sleeps through class.  However, the other day before class, my students were sitting out in the hallway.  This student was actually early for once.  The scene was the way it has been before almost every class this semester.  The instructor who teaches in the room before me always holds the students over by at least 2 minutes.  I never say anything because I understand that it is a calculus class and sometimes the extra time is needed to explain the more complex problems.
But then my student pipes up with, "Well, the only reason this instructor holds her students over is because she cares about them!"  Wow.  I knew it was a direct attack on me and the fact that this student actually believes that I am an uncaring instructor because I never hold the class after.  I want to reiterate, I have another class immediately after this class, and so I must walk to another building within an 8 minute period.  With 2 minutes to pack up, 4 minutes to walk to the other building, and 2 minutes to unpack, that leaves me no time to chat.  Does this really make me uncaring?

In fact, this is the only student who gives me any trouble about this issue at all.  When needed, some of the other students who don't have another class immediately after have even offered to erase the board for me so that I would have more time to walk to my next class.  Those students make me feel good.  So, to these students, I applaud you for your respect, understanding, and compassion toward me.  I really appreciate it.  But this student, the one with the awful complaints, makes me feel heart-broken.

Here's an example of why:  The day that this student made the comment, we were reviewing material for the final exam.  A week beforehand, I had given the students a review sheet and asked them complete it at home.  One student came back and asked me to do a problem for the entire class.  I did.  So, on the day of the actual review, I didn't want to do the same problem again because I had already done it once the the week before.  This student went off the handle and said, 'If you actually cared about your students, you would take the time to review the problem whether you have done it in class already or not!'  By the way, within 5 minutes of this disruption, the student was sound asleep in the back of the class.

Now here's the kicker — the student not only fell asleep during class, but also left about two minutes early.  And ironically, after all of the complaints about not holding students over, right when it was time to leave, one student said, 'Well, I really was hoping we would have gotten to #29 today."  So, since I knew it was a short problem, I actually took kept the class over and did the problem anyway.  But this student didn't see that because the student slept through the class and left early.  Although I'm not sure that seeing this would have improved this student's perception of me anyway.  But all I know is that I have tried my best.
However, the problem is that this one student could potentially ruin my career (or at least make my life miserable) by complaining to the right person at the right time.  And I know exactly what will happen, someone will be called in to investigate the complaint against me, I will have to sit it hours upon hours of meetings and possibly fill out lots of statements and reports.  It has happened to me in the past and it took 3 months to clear the complaints against me.  And then all of this extra work to try to defend myself against one student's unwarranted complaints takes a toll on me and I become a miserable, uncaring wretch.  Personally, I find this a little ironic.

So, my question is, 'What can we as educators do to reach out to these students?'  The students with a high truancy rate who sleep during class, and then complain that the instructor was the reason that they couldn't and didn't learn the material.  What can we do?