Tag Archives: Algebra

The Mathematics of Weight Loss

The picture below was taken in college when I was around my heaviest weight ever of 314 lbs.  I’ve always been a big person and I there is a lot that goes into why this is the case as well.  Was it the way I was raised?  Was it genetics?  Was it just me eating myself into a hole?  Well, this is not the place where I’m going to talk about that.


What I will say, though, is that this is the most recent picture of me a little over 70 lbs lighter than I was at my highest weight.  This is a blog post about math, so I’ll let you figure out my approximate current weight on your own.


With all of that out of the way, I’ll tell you what this blog post is really about.  I don’t really like talking about myself because I’m generally a very self-conscious person.  But this weekend I was thinking about what I might be able to do to share my weight loss journey with my students.  And the file below was created.  It’s a series of problems that I’ve created for my classes — one problem per class.

There’s problem for Linear Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, Beginning Algebra, and Math for Education.  The best part for me is that every problem asks a question about the same data set.  And it’s all based around the premise that I have a short-term weight loss goal that I’m trying to meet of 225 lbs by October 31, 2013.

Maybe this is a little bit over the top for what you might be willing to use with your own classroom, but it’s definitely a big step forward for me in talking about my weight loss publicly.  If I can’t talk about this with my students, what can I talk about, then?  Some of the fat jokes that I used to use in class don’t really work anymore.  Hey now!

The Mathematics of Weight Loss

Mind Maps for Calculus, Algebra, and Statistics

This semester I decided that I wanted to organize all of the resources that I’ve found on the Internet onto Mind Maps for my Calculus, Algebra, and Statistics classes.  There was just too much that I wanted to tell my students about every semester that it started to become too overwhelming to repost the links on my LMS every semester (my courses don’t ever seem to copy very well from semester to semester).  The results are below.  Feel free to share with everyone.

For the calculus map, bit.ly/calcmap

For the algebra map, bit.ly/algebramap

For the statistics map, bit.ly/statmap



More Videos

I first heard about these two videos from this Tech the Pluge post, but what isn’t mentioned there is that there are more videos that can be found.

Additional Videos: Getting Triggy Wit It and Teach Me How To Factor

Additional Videos:  Facebook for Math Nerds, Glee for Math Nerds, The Tonsil Hockey Team

I Use Matrices in Everyday Life, Do You?

I am teaching a Finite Math class this semester and the majority of students in the class are business majors.  I’m trying to make the class as relevant to them as possible, so I’ve been reading magazines such as INC, and Entrepreneur to try to get ideas for things that I can talk about in class.  Well, here is one problem I came up with for my lesson on multiplying matrices.  And by the way, I put a copy of the pie chart from the magazine on the Document Camera before even starting (I brought the magazine to class, actually).

According to INC Magazine (March 2011), 54% of workers describe their workplaces coffee as tolerable, 30% great, 10% terrible, and 6% other.  Use matrices to answer the following questions:

1.  If a company has 5040 employees, how many fall in each category?
2.  Within this company, there are 3000 people in sales and 2040 people in marketing, how many from each department fall in each category?
3.  Using the results from part 2, how many employees in marketing thought that the coffee was terrible?
4.  Use matrix multiplication to verify that the row totals in part 2 match your answer from part 1.

Mid-Week Ideas, Anyone?

A couple of things I came across this week.  Of course, there were more, but here are the highlights:

1.  TI-Nspire Videos over at Atomic Learning – These are wonderful walk-through videos which cover the basics, graphs and geometry, lists and spreadsheets, data and statistics, calculator and data collection.

2.  TopicMarks – I heard about this wonderful tool this week in my Twitter feed that summarizes text documents for you.  This has wide implications, such as allowing more free time to read other materials, or to just simply give an abstract for one of your own works.

3.  Inequality Match Game – I actually found the direct link for this game from the North Carolina Public Schools first, and then hunted down the original source once I realized that the wonderful state of North Carolina has come up with what seems to be hundreds of activities for teaching math.

Math Games for Integers, Multiplication, and Combining Like Terms

I have some slightly under-prepared students semester, so I suggested to them that they should try to work on their basic skills outside of class.  However, this requires me to provide some recommended resources to them, and these are what I have discovered:


  • Factoris – Tetris-style game for multiplication facts.
  • Penguin Jump – Fun Multiplication Game that can be played with up to 4 people from around the world.
  • Dad’s Worksheets – For those who just want the traditional worksheets to practice with.

Combining Like Terms

  • Combining Like Terms Quartet – This like terms game requires you to match the center term with its the appropriate like term. 
  • Matching Game – Identify the matching terms in two columns.
  • On-line Jeopardy Game – Distributive property, combining like terms, evaluating expressions, solving equations. 
Integers and Order of Operations
Other Helpful Links

Factoring Activities and More

A few weeks ago a colleague of mine was in need of an activity for Factoring.  He was ahead of his pacing chart and wanted something to fill up some class time with.  I referred him towww.ilovemath.org, which has hundreds of free activities to download.  Here is a list of a few that I have successfully used the in the classroom:

Algebra Activities Binder

I don't know whether this post should go under the category of "promotion" or not, but what I do know is that I regularly use Maria Andersen's Algebra Activities Binder in my classroom.  We have been talking about solving equations in my basic mathematics class at IADT, and to finish out the chapter, today I used pages 3 through 6 from the chapter on equations.  The students really seemed to enjoy working in groups on the pages, but it probably was too much for them to do within 1 hour I allotted for them to do it in. But after a good start working on the activities in class, the students showed some confidence that they would be able to complete the activities at home and bring them back at the next class.

For more information on the Algebra Activities Binder, see: