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Saturday, February 14, 2015

ICTCM - New Math Lit talk

Next month, Heather and I will be presenting at ICTCM in Las Vegas.  We have a new talk about using Excel in pathways courses.  The talk we originally had planned, on using hybrid and online formats with pathways courses, has been put on hold until a later date.  We continue to work on ways to make Math Lit work in alternate formats.  More information will be coming at a later date on that front.  Until then, please come see us at ICTCM if you're coming to the conference.  This is the talk we'll be giving.  It will showcase several new problems and activities.

Beyond Algebra:  Using Excel to Build Understanding in a Pathways Course 

Pathways courses use rich, realistic problems to apply concepts and increase problem solving skills.  Instead of focusing exclusively on algebraic techniques, this session will show ways to use Excel to develop deeper understanding. Sample activities and problems will be shared.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

AMATYC 2014 Presentation: Tips and Tricks for Implementing a Math Literacy Course

Here are the slides from the presentation I did with Dan Petrak at AMATYC last week.  He has used Math Lit at his school for their math literacy course for two years.  He's in his third year of teaching the course.  Their implementation is large scale, across several campuses and with many instructors (full time and adjuncts).

Friday, November 14, 2014

Math Literacy training - AMATYC 2014

Below is the presentation Heather and I gave today at AMATYC as a training session for teaching a math literacy course.  There is information on the philosophy of the course, how lessons are taught, how we use MyMathLab, teaching tips, ideas for groupwork, and ideas for grading.

If you would like more information on the points in the presentation, please check out our ready-to-go MyMathLab course.  In it are 12 instructor videos where we explain many of the topics discussed in the presentation below.  Those videos can be used as a virtual training.

If you are interested in us coming to your school to train your faculty, please email me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Math Lit sessions at AMATYC

Next week I'll be AMATYC in Nashville.  Here are the sessions I'll be presenting.

The Right Stuff - Still Music to Your Ears
Thursday 1:50 - 2:40 pm

Rob Kimball and I will present on The Right Stuff modules.  They are applied, contextual modules designed to engage college algebra students.  I explored these after coming back to teach college algebra after a few years away in which I was working on the Math Literacy course.  Pathways courses have affected all the classes I teach, challenging me to find rich problems and activities to build student engagement and understanding.  We'll talk in detail about the Right Stuff modules.  I'll also share an activity I wrote for my college algebra classes after being inspired by RS material.

Teaching a Math Lit Course:  Tips and Training
Friday 8:00 - 9:30 am

Heather and I are giving this session through Pearson as a commercial presentation.  We will do a fast but informative training session to help you get your Math Lit pilot off on the right foot.  We'll talk about many aspects of teaching the course including the philosophy of the course, the materials we've written, using online homework, and dealing with groups.  Whether you're considering piloting, getting ready to pilot, or teaching the course already, this session should have something for you.

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Pathways Implementation
Friday 3:10 - 4 pm

Dan Petrak and I will give lots of tips for implementing a Math Lit course at any size school, small or multi-campus.  Many ideas will shared including tips for working with adjuncts and advisors as well as classroom-level issues like group-work and contextual learning.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ideas for accountability in group work

In Math Lit, we use a lot of group work to give students time to work through more involved problems and gain the ability to articulate their thought processes with others.  It's a flexible component of the book and math literacy course in that you can use your class time to be mostly group work or use it some or little of the time.  I teach my class with about half the time in groups and half as whole class, but that's just a personal preference.  It flexes with the students I have and their abilities and personalities.

If you use group work, especially group projects like the focus problems in the text, you know that some students don't carry their weight.  We have suggestions throughout the book for working with groups and maintaining accountability.  This article shares some additional ideas that are worth considering.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Viral Growth

In the book Math Lit, we work with linear and exponential growth a lot.  In lesson 1.17, we introduce students to both using viral videos as a context.  In this article, a Yale economist explores the ALS ice bucket challenge and how mathematics is related to it.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Math Lit MyMathLab course!

Long time, no blog!  I apologize for not blogging during the summer, but I have something to hopefully make up for it.  Earlier this month Pearson released a new version of the Ready-to-go MyMathLab course for Math Lit.  It contains some great new resources for students and instructors.


For the instructor, we created a series of twelve, brief videos that can be used for training purposes.  These videos can help an instructor with planning and teaching a math literacy course with the book Math Lit.  The videos are available within a new tab in MyMathLab called Instructor Resource Videos.  They are also linked through the ebook's preface.

Video topics:

A Typical Day
Book Structure
Focus Problems
Lesson Features
Cycle Wrap-Up
Teaching with Excel
Tour of MyMathLab
Top 10 Tips
Instructor Support


For students, we created many videos to assist with the skills in the text.  These videos are designed to support the skills in the book but using the techniques and philosophy that we wrote the book with.  Every A Closer Look mini-lecture has videos that accompany all the examples and practice problems (see picture at left).  This allows an instructor to assign the Closer Looks for outside of class in order to have time for the problem solving problems in class.

The student videos are available in the Multimedia Library, linked throughout the ebook, and listed on the lesson pages within the MyMathLab course.


By request, a factoring appendix will soon be added to the MyMathLab course.  It will contain skill problems for all types of factoring including greatest common factor, sum/difference of cubes, difference of two squares, and trinomials (a = 1 and a not equal to 1).  Solving quadratic equations by factoring and applications using factoring will also be included.  This provides schools that want to include factoring a way to assign problems easily.

For a list of the existing resources in the MyMathLab course, check out this blog post.