Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MAA Online has just published an article on Wolfram|Alpha by David Bressoud that has references to much of what has been published so far. He takes a somewhat more even view of W|A when he says towards the end "[it] is not a trivial change, but it need not be revolutionary." The link is to the right.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More on Wolfram Alpha

I finally found the link to an interesting article by Jeffrey Young from the Chronicle of Higher Education that explores what Wolfram Alpha may mean to the way we teach: http://chronicle.com/article/A-Calculating-Web-Site-Coul/47316/. I love the quote: "It makes graphing calculators look like slide rules."

Seriously though, W/A will change the way we teach mathematics.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


From the web site's About: "GeoGebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that joins arithmetic, geometry, algebra and calculus. On the one hand, GeoGebra is an interactive geometry system. You can do constructions with points, vectors, segments, lines, conic sections as well as functions and change them dynamically afterward. On the other hand, equations and coordinates can be entered directly. Thus, GeoGebra has the ability to deal with variables for numbers, vectors and points, finds derivatives and integrals of functions and offers commands like Root or Extremum. These two views are characteristic of GeoGebra: an expression in the algebra view corresponds to an object in the graphics view and vice versa"

Truth is, GeoGebra is impossible to describe. You need to see it in action. The web site has many examples, as does www.john-burke.net. Note that GeoGebra is free and is actively being enhanced. You can install GeoGebra on any PC or Mac (it is completely written in java), run it through a browser, or even run it off a thumb drive.

The best way to learn to use GeoGebra on your own is to download the examples and then run the the Construction Protocol step by step (not the algebra window, but View -->Construction Protocol).

For my colleagues at ARC, I will be giving a short presentation on GeoGebra Thursday, 8/20 and Friday, 8/21 at the Math Department meetings.

For my colleagues at Sierra College, I will be giving a four hour hands on tutorial Tuesday, 8/25 from 1 - 5PM where you can (will) learn to use GeoGebra and leave with several constructions you can use in your classroom.

Wolfram Alpha

Speaking of the MathForum at Drexel, the MathEdCC (Math Education Community College) forum has had quite a discussion lately about math anxiety, what it is and isn't and what, if anything, we can do to ameliorate it.

There have also been a few posts so far about Wolfram Alpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com) and how to incorporate it into our teaching ("if" to incorporate is not an option since students will use it whether we want them to or not). If you have not seen what Wolfram Alpha can do, just check out some of the math examples at http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/Math.html.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two New URLs

I've added two new links to the right.

The first is for the MathForum @ Drexel University. It is hard to describe in a few words everything this site offers to both instructors and students.
You can easily spend several hours just looking into everything available, some free, some for a fee. From the "about" page:

"The Math Forum is a leading center for mathematics and mathematics education on the Internet. Operating under Drexel's School of Education, our mission is to provide resources, materials, activities, person-to-person interactions, and educational products and services that enrich and support teaching and learning in an increasingly technological world. Our online community includes teachers, students, researchers, parents, educators, and citizens at all levels who have an interest in math and math education."

The second URL is for the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. These are java applets that illustrate interactively many basic arithmetic and mathematics concepts. While nominally aimed at K-12, many of the virtual manipulatives are suitable for the skills development course taught in community colleges (College Arithmetic through Intermediate Algebra). Since statistics is commonly taught now in high school, the library also contains several virtual manipulatives (I am particularly enamored of the Monty Hall Problem manipulative) suitable for a college Elementary Statistics course. The Library can be used freely through any Internet connection or can be downloaded for a nominal fee. If you teach any skills development courses or Elementary Statistics, you should be able to find something here to use in the classroom.