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Use Angry Birds to Teach Math

§ September 7th, 2011 § 7 Comments- Add yours§ Filed under Teaching Math § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As David Wees shares in his blog entitled, Make Mathematics Fun, “too many students spend a lot of time not enjoying themselves when learning mathematics.”  He challenges mathematics educators to make math accessible and more easily learned for their students.  Being up for the challenge, here is a suggestion.

Angry Birds is the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far. It is an interactive, animated projectile launcher that creates parabolic motion. The parabola is traced by the flight of the projectile (the bird).  In the app players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures.  The goal is to destroy all the pigs on the screen. The game is such a huge hit that The MIT Entrepreneurship Review predicts that the game will be bigger than either Mickey Mouse or Mario.  If  kids are that into it,  let’s change it from a mindless game to a vehicle for learning math.

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Finding Real-World Math Problems

§ August 2nd, 2011 § 4 Comments- Add yours§ Filed under From the Elevated Math Team, Teaching Math § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photography by Michael Gil

First in the list of things that students say they want from education, according to eSchool News, is “real-world application and relevancy.” When it comes to math education finding these real-world examples seems more of a challenge. I tried myself to find some, was stumped, and had to go back through the Elevated Math lessons to find problems that kids might find relevant. Next, I searched into my own life to find some more. And then, after my consciousness was alert to this task, all sorts of ideas began to surface.

I was reminded of a time when my daughter was young. With her strapped to a car seat in Los Angeles’ rush-hour traffic, we filled the time with a game. The objective § Read the rest of this entry…


Can Salman Khan Teach Math?

§ July 27th, 2011 § 10 Comments- Add yours§ Filed under From the Elevated Math Team, Teaching Math § Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

In the past few weeks I’ve been reading what others have been saying about Khan Academy and decided to watch some of the videos. Since I had forgotten about limits in calculus, I watched a video about that. I promptly fell asleep. His voice is pleasant enough, but I’m a visual person I need more stimulation than having a lesson scratched out on a blackboard. But I didn’t give up.  I tried a video where I knew the subject well. On Monday we ran a blog post on the Pythagorean Theorem so I decided to see what Khan had done on this subject. Here is Khan’s version where he proves the theorem.  And here is the Elevated Math version. (We just put this up on YouTube.) Khan’s proof takes around eight minutes while Elevated Math’s takes only a minute. You be the judge which is better. The big difference, besides the proof itself, is in production value.  Along with the one minute explanation Elevated Math has another 19 minutes of  instruction on right triangles, animated graphics, problem-solving, practice and immediate feedback.  The Khan video is free while the Elevated Math lesson costs less than the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee.

What I find interesting is Khan’s “flipped” classroom idea where he proposes that lectures are used as § Read the rest of this entry…


Books Every Math Teacher Should Read

§ July 26th, 2011 § 8 Comments- Add yours§ Filed under Math, Other Voices § Tagged , , , , , , ,

Photography by Jon Hayes

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, and I’ve come across a few books in the past few months that I think every math educator should read.

A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart

I don’t see how it’s doing society any good to have its members walking around with vague memories of algebraic formulas and geometric diagrams, and clear memories of hating them.” ~ Paul Lockhart, p33

The original essay that inspired this book is still available online here, and if you can’t find the time to read all of Paul’s book, I recommend at least reading the essay. Paul talks passionately about some serious problems in mathematics education today, most notably that much of what is taught in schools is not actually mathematics itself, but a caricature of mathematics.

Mathematics Miseducation by Derek Stolp

[M]athematics, as it is taught, does not give children any view of reality, let alone a rational one.” ~ Derek Stolp, p33

Derek argues first that mathematics, as it is taught today, does not warrant inclusion in our curriculum, but then demonstrates some clear ways that mathematics education could be changed to make it viable again. He has the best argument for a constructivist approach to mathematics education I’ve read so far. § Read the rest of this entry…