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!
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.
These are both videos based on a parody of 'Born This Way' by Lady Gaga. Personally, I don't like her music, but that's because I don't listen enough to the radio to know any of her songs. However, I did find both of these videos very amusing in their own ways. They were uploaded to YouTube only 1 day apart and of course, they are having their own little debate over whose idea came first. Who cares! Just enjoy the videos.
And by the way, I really am doing more than just spending my summer finding random YouTube videos about Calculus. =D
Sometimes I wonder how many people actually find this more annoying than useful.
1. Maple Worksheets for Calculus – In addition to the Applets which I previously posted about, there St. Louis University also has a series of Maple Worksheets for Calculus that could prove to be useful. That is, if Maple is your thing.
3. Using Wolfram Alpha in a Calculus Class and Google Guides Calculator Shortcuts are just two reminders of the fact that we need to continue to remind our students that these tools are available for their use. First of all, I think it is completely unfair as an educator to not tell students about these resources. Second of all, if some students know about the resources, but others don't, not all students are on a equal playing field. Learning is a supposed to be a fair process.
4. If you go to Math6.org's Black Line Master's page and click on the 'Computation' button on the left side of the page, you will be taken to a page of Computation Drill Strips. One day last week I used the LCM/GCF Drill. I cut it up into strips and had groups within the class compete against each other. They were so excited about it that they wanted to take the strips that we didn't use home for extra practice.
5. 7 of the Best On-line Collaborative Drawing Tools and Join.Me – Although I haven't checked all of them out yet, I can totally see how having on-line collaborative drawing tools would be great for working with students at a distance. And Join.Me might help also, as it is a FREE remote assistance screen sharing and remote control APP.
6. Big Free Clock – This is a direct download link to one of the best clocks I have ever seen to use in the classroom. I have used it often when using timed games/activities in the classroom, or when I have given group exams in large auditoriums without a clock, and wanted to project the time for the students.
7. NeoK12 – Science, math, social studies, history, geography and other educational videos, lessons, quizzes and educational games that make learning fun and interesting. I wasn't sure about using this website at first, but then after more careful inspection, I realized that I really do find it useful that the videos are organized by topic rather than just doing a random search on YouTube.
8. Math Nook – Very cool, free educational and fun online math games. Games target math vocabulary, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division , fractions, and other math skills. There is a really loud noise every time you first load the page, so don't be alarmed. I really thought Factor Dog was really intense. Just wait until the dogs start coming really fast.
9. ProBoards and Wallwisher are both unique in their own ways. ProBoards is a tool to create free on-line discussion forums. I know, most Learning Management Systems already have some form of discussion board built in, but I can see this being useful because the look can be customized to be more appealing. Wallwisher is an on-line notice wall maker. This could be useful if you want to collaborate with students in a different way such that everyone's updates and messages could appear all in one place.
10. xtranormal – Essentially their slogan is, "If you can type, you can make movies". Actually, I've seen some of their videos floating around the web for about the last month or so without even realizing it. I've thought that the videos were really great every time, and wish that I could make them myself, and now I know how. I will definitely be experimenting with this in the weeks to come.
However, I was actually more interested in GeoGebra than the actual applets, since I had never heard of it before. It turns out that GeoGebra is a free tool to create learning and teaching materials. I played a little bit with the web-based version since I didn't really want to download anything that I wasn't so sure about. And now I can see that it is a terrific resource that I will be using well into the future. Of course, although I also like the Wolfram Demonstrations Project, I can't get over the fact that you need the Mathematica Player in order to be able to show the demonstrations in class. And since I don't have the rights to download it in many of the buildings that I teach in, sometimes it is a fail for me. GeoGebra is different since I can put the Applets directly onto my own webspace.
As a great introduction to using GeoGebra, I highly recommend checking out the video below, which will give you just a small taste of its power and might. By the way, the guy in the video says GeoGebra incorrectly every time. It's GEE-AHH-GEBRA, not GEE-O-GEBRA. I found this out only because I watched another video from the creator of GeoGebra. Sorry, just a pet peeve, just like when students pronounce EULER incorrectly.
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!