Math Teachers at Play Blog Carnival #15

Hello, I am Maria Droujkova and I put together this Carnival on behalf of Math 2.0 interest group. The next carnival issue will be on October 2, 2009 at I want to teach forever blog - see details at Math Teachers at Play blog carnival index page.

Explorations in math, pure and applied

Colleen King presents Mathematical Pursuits posted at Learning in Mathland. It unveils her new site, Math Apprentice, with a roleplaying game where kids can become apprentices in occupations that have to do with mathematics. This site is a powerful answer to the perennial student question of meaning and significance: "When will we ever use all this math?!" Here are some screenshots from the game:

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Students become computer animators at Trigon Studios. They use sine and cosine function to manipulate characters and props in a movie scene.
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At Space Logic, students match robot speeds to distance vs time graphs and program a space rover to reach its destination.
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At the Sweet Treat Cafe, students must analyze graphs, scale up recipes, and find the best buy.
John Cook presents Easy to guess, hard to prove activity at The Endeavour, devoted to a pattern in prime numbers that is simple to discover but hard to prove. The activity starts with repeatedly applying subtraction to a list of prime numbers, and always, always, always getting 1 at the beginning. With prime numbers being spread so randomly, how does this regularity ever has a chance to happen?! This is an example of a very pure math exploration accessible to young kids. John's excuse for those who wonder about an apparent lack of application is a story of waiting a friend who's late and having nothing better to do. The story may help math beginners get into the joy of pure abstract play. The proof is not solved yet - here is your chance!

Tracy Beach presents Math Learning Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers posted at Math Learning, Fun & Education Blog : Dreambox Learning. There are architecture, museum, sports and agriculture field trip ideas. An easy way to organize field trips is to form a coop or to invite existing Math Club families to take turns contacting places of interest, organizing field trips, and helping kids see the richness of math in professional settings.

Pat Ballew presents Pi and the 47 Ronin posted at Pat'sBlog. It is a romantic story of Samurai avenging their master. One of the Ronin was a brilliant mathematician of his time. This is a treasure for those who value mathematical storytelling and cultural exploration. 300 years later, the incense is still perpetually burning.
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by lovecatz
by lovecatz
N bestest things

This type of blog posts uses one of the most powerful human motivators - collecting! When in doubt about activity design, simply offer students to collect examples, counterexamples, all relevant postulates, the hardest formulas, most useful (or least useful facts) and so on. To make this work, you need to display the collection prominently, and run the activity over some time.
For now, get in touch with your inner hunter-gatherer or squirrel, and see what our carnival bloggers have collected in their lists! This category also wins the "most rejected blog carnival submissions" award.
Picture source

Linda Jones presents 25 Cutting-Edge Wolfram Alpha Tips for Serious Students posted at Online Universities Weblog. It has many fun and unexpected uses, such as solving crossword puzzles or comparing periodicals, and draws on sources above and beyond W|A "examples" pages, including blog posts and newspaper articles.
Tom DeRosa presents 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons Project posted at I Want to Teach Forever, our next Carnival host, saying, "Unfortunately this project seems to be losing all momentum. If you haven't contributed yet, I need your help!" Note that these are life lessons, containing pieces of wisdom, almost koans for meditation. The question Tom asks: "What is the most important advice you can give to other teachers?" 29 down, 23 to go - please contribute!

Emma Taylor presents 100 Useful Tools for Special Needs Students & Educators posted at Teaching Tips. Tips from 26 to 34 are about math accessibility. The site among them I found most interesting is NASA's MathTrax helper, including geometry activities accessible to the blind: it allows you to listen to shapes!
MathTrax dog from the 50s NASA space experiments
MathTrax dog from the 50s NASA space experiments

Kate Hopkins presents 100 Free Lectures for a Cutting-Edge Business Education posted at Online College Reviews - College Ratings. Lectures from 61 to 69 are about economics as such: the applied math all of us should probably learn at some point of our lives. The lectures are from Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton and other ivory tower places, given by bestselling book authors, though "explaining the nature of the crisis" is a genre attracting a larger pool of lecturers, too, judging by YouTube. Another notable inclusion, though not directly about math, is Shirky's TED lecture on institutions and collaborations - a topic directly influencing many Math 2.0 interest group themes. Here it is:

Linda Jones presents 52 Tips to Read Faster and Remember More posted at Online Best Reading math and science texts is a complex set of skills that takes decades to hone. Many of the tips will help a lot, such as making diagrams as you read, or relating what you read to the real world. Other tips you need to take with a grain of salt, for example, fidgeting and background music, behaviors discouraged by the tips, in fact help a lot of people concentrate, especially if they have attention-related disabilities.

Alvina Lopez presents 100 Best Blogs for Tech-Savvy Teachers posted at Online which I am including because web 2.0 is in the interests of this group, and because I love many of the blogs listed there - though a math-specific list would be better. Categories include virtual worlds, technology tools, and assistive technology.

Technical skills and basic facts

We have several contributions that deal with basic skills, such as "math facts" or calculator use.

Denise, the founder of this carnival, presents Mental Math: Addition posted at Let's play math!. Denise writes: "The purpose of number bonds is that students will be comfortable taking numbers apart and putting them back together in their heads. As they learn to work with numbers this way, students grow in understanding — some call it “number sense” — and develop a confidence about math that I often find lacking in children who simply follow the steps of an algorithm." Denise follows "The Harvard Rule of Three" and offers three different ways to add two-digit numbers. Invite your kids to develop as many ways as they can, and find the ways they like the most!

Mr. H presents Piecewise Defined Functions on TI Graphing Calculators posted at Mathing..., saying, "How to graph piecewise defined functions on TI graphing calculators. It's the last of a 5 part series. Visiting the first post may be helpful. Starts with understanding holes in rational functions and then extends that to how to artificially restrict domain of functions on graphing calculators." The series is detailed, has clear screenshots, and multiple plot examples.
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Wendy Piersall offers two sets of printables from Classroom Jr.. The first is an example of the "decorated worksheet" genre: Fall Math Worksheets for 2nd and 3rd Grade This type of materials is quite controversial because decorations don't relate to the math content. For example, a squirrel and some nuts decorate the worksheet about counting by twos, threes, fives and hundreds. I count myself in the "intrinsic imagery only" camp, but YMMV. For example, you can count eyes of (multiple) squirrels by twos, and paws by fours, and use pictures to illustrate this. Leaves, with one, three or five tips, is another intrinsic counting Fall theme possibility. Her second resource is Paper Coins and Paper Money for Money Counting Lessons which can come handy if you want to avoid all the bacteria on the real money, for example.
Maria Miller presents Strategies for basic addition and subtraction facts posted at Homeschool Math Blog. There is a certain richness in "small number addition and subtraction" that Maria explores. Such approaches to addition as counting up to ten and then adding the rest, while simple, will help kids focus on general patterns in numbers and thus develop algebraic reasoning. Here is the video from the post:

About the event

The carnival will be at this page on September 18th. To submit your blog post, use this form.

Blog carnivals are asynchronous networking events with rotating hosts. Bloggers submit their on-topic discussions, and the host assembles them into a story. Since blogging is one of the older technologies with fewer social and networking elements, carnivals work as a powerful networking tool.

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From the description of the first "Math Teachers at Play" carnival:
I really do enjoy the Carnival of Mathematics, most of the time, but I must admit that many of the posts go right over my head. And my middle-school level contributions often feel out of place (to me, at least), like toddlers at a high society cocktail party. On the other hand, the more general edu-blog carnivals (see sidebar) have grown so large that it’s nearly impossible to browse all their posts. I wanted something smaller and more “relevant” — more tightly targeted to my interests. And so, not finding the type of blog carnival I wanted, I selfishly decided to create one.
I plan to post these round-ups biweekly — if I can keep up with that pace amidst the hurly-burly of our homeschool lifestyle — alternating with the Carnival of Mathematics. More information may be found on the Math Teachers at Play blog carnival index page.

Carnival founder

external image glider-in-cup-avatar.thumbnail.JPGDenise from Let's Play Math:

I am a Christian, a wife and homemaker, and the homeschooling mother of five, ages 9yo to adult, all still living at home (though not for much longer, alas!) in the rural countryside of central Illinois. My hobbies are learning and teaching math, presenting math workshops for homeschool groups, and reading anything I can get my hands on. I have taught or tutored mathematics at every level from pre-K to undergraduate physics — which, at least in the recitation class that I TA’d, was just one story problem after another. What fun!

Submissions that weren't included

Submissions listed here are not included in the carnival, because I could not find math or web 2.0 connections. Some people may still find them interesting - I know I did! Here is the full list: