Friday, December 2, 2016

AMATYC Keynote Connects to Pathways

Maria Andersen gave a terrific keynote address at AMATYC's conference this year. The video is available below. Her talk starts at the 44 minute mark.

The presentation resonated with me because the suggestions she gave are what we aim for in pathways courses like Math Lit. She talked about how we need to have real interaction in our classes, that we learn from experience, not just lecture, and how challenge and curiosity matter. She talked about the importance of varied practice, a key component of the content development in Math Lit, which is different from the mass practice concept used so commonly. That explanations are useful when students need them, after they've been working on something and there is confusion. And that students being stuck sometimes is important. All of her assertions are backed by research.

Her style is engaging and her message is timely and meaningful. Please take a look.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

AMATYC Presentation Slides

Here is our presentation from today's AMATYC talk. After the slides are direct links to the articles shown in case any hyperlinks in the slides do not load correctly.

Articles referenced are as follows. Each includes data and information regarding pathways.

CCCSE report

California Acceleration Project report

Colorado Developmental Math report

Florida Developmental Math report

Montana Math Pathways report

New Mexico Math Pathways report

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Going to AMATYC?

Heather and I will be presenting next week at the AMATYC conference in Denver. We will be talking about where pathways are 5 years after their inception. We'll give our latest data, national updates, and many lessons we've learned through teaching the course for 5 years. We'd love to see you there!

Math Lit and Pathways: Five Years Later
Thursday November 17
10:20 - 11:10 am

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What's new?

Long time no blog! I've finally dug out of all the Math Lit 2nd edition items and got my classes to a good place for the fall. I've been doing lots of new things that I'll be blogging about. Using the second edition has been a lot of fun and has opened up the possibility of teaching the course online (which is going outstanding). I'll be blogging about the face-to-face and online versions and how those are going.

One big addition is a new Math Lit forum. There is a link above or to the right. To join, please request permission to join and tell me a little about yourself. I'll approve membership requests of faculty using or planning to use Math Lit to teach their math literacy course. Once approved, you can talk with other users about things that have been working for you, questions you have, and more. I'm excited to have this option to interact with other instructors of math literacy. Sharing ideas can benefit everyone.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I'll blogging on the following topics. I'll also add to the Math Lit forum.
  • Teaching Math Lit online
  • Using Learning Catalytics in course
  • How is the second edition of Math Lit different
  • Testing options
  • Focus problems

and more!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ready-to-go Course ID Available for MML Homework Use (no text homework)

I've made an additional RTG course if you want to use MML only for homework and not the book in addition to MML. I took the other RTG course I made (see yesterday's blog post for more info) and added in the text homework Skills problems and text homework Concepts and Applications problems that are available. Not all of the C&Apps problems from the text are available but there are some of those problems in MML for every section. I'm thinking of making the ones that aren't in MML now as free response custom questions for my fall online Math Lit class. If that pans out and works well, I'll provide the course ID after the fall semester for those who want to copy that course.

The text Skills problems in the book are meant to test students on the MML problems without the use of help aids. To achieve this while still in MML, I removed Help Me Solve This and View an Example from each of the text Skills problems. You can add them back easily if you want.

To allow students to review for the test only inside of MML, I took the existing Cycle Wrap-Ups and added some Concepts and Applications problems (at least one from each section of the cycle). The vocabulary component is not included, so you may want to have students use the Wrap-Up in the book at the end of each cycle along with the MML assignment.

MML Only (No Book homework) RTG Course ID:  almy53543

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ready-to-go Course ID Available for MML + Book Homework Use

Since a ready-to-go (RTG) course is not available for the book, I've created one by copying each sample homework and quiz within the course. They only need to be assigned to be used. To see the assignments, choose the Assignment Manager within the Course Tools tab.

The approach I took with this course is that of the way homework was used with the first edition: students start with skill-based exercises in MML and then finish their homework by doing all of the book homework problems for a section.

Each homework assignment in the RTG course has a selection of MML only problems for the section. We worked to make each sample assignment a reasonable length and not have any too long or too short. MML only problems are not in the printed book homework. They contain skill-based exercises for the section. With this approach to homework, students need to do the book homework after the MML homework so that they can work on the concepts and applications component of the section.

The RTG course has this construction for each cycle:

  • Homework for each section in the first half of the cycle with MML only problems
  • Mid-cycle quiz with one MML only problem and one Concepts & Applications problem for each section in the first half
  • Homework for each section in the second half of the cycle with MML only problems
  • Cycle Wrap-Up homework with MML only problems from the entire cycle to accompany the 5 step test review wrap-up in the book

Additionally, a prerequisite quiz (Getting Ready for Math Lit) is included to open the course.

I have not customized the tabs in the left navigation bar. The default is the book homework answers are hidden, but you can reveal that tab for students if you like. You can hide any tabs you don't want to use, organize tabs together, and add additional tabs if desired.

Please use any, all, or none of the homeworks and quizzes. Customize them to work for your needs. For most sections, there are additional MML only problems to choose if you want more practice. If you feel you do not have enough problems, consider adding testbank problems (available on 8/17/16) and/or adding problems from other texts. There are additional problems available in the Getting Ready for Math Lit appendix that can be used for prerequisite topics.

Also, you may want to copy the sample tests to provide students a practice test for studying purposes, even if you give paper tests in class.

MML + Book homework RTG Course ID:  almy04103

I'm also working on a RTG course that does not rely on book homework. It's taking me a little longer to do, so that course ID will be posted on this blog tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2016

MyMathLab for Math Lit 2e Now Available! (updated)

The MyMathLab (MML) course for the 2nd edition of Math Lit is now available. There are many improvements and additions to the first editions MML course.

Homework/quiz/test creation

  • More MML problems to choose from including some Concepts and Applications problems from the book homework for each book section (see Tip below)
  • Each section name includes its topic for ease of selecting problems when creating homeworks/quizzes/tests
  • Problems are clearly labeled for ease of use
    • MML only (for exercises that are only in MML and not in the book)
    • TextSkills (first two skill exercises of each book homework)
    • TextC&Apps (concepts and applications problems in the book)
  • Sample tests available for instructors who want to test online or have practice tests online
  • A Getting Ready for Math Lit appendix to provide additional prerequisite content questions above the included Getting Ready prereq quiz
8/3 Update:

An improved TestGen testbank was created for this edition of the text. You can download it from this page. Choose the Resources tab and scroll down. Although it says it's not available yet, it is there and available for download.

The testbank questions are also going to be converted to MML questions and will be available in the MML assignment manager as additional testbank questions on 8/17/16. For those wanting even more problems to use, this should help a lot.

Student resources
  • ebook has many more videos to support students (and all videos in the text were made for Math Lit)
  • Answers to book homework only available in MML so that you can choose to reveal or hide them
  • Updated Excel appendix with additional functions included
Instructor resources
  • Printable homework masters if you want to collect book homework but don't want to disrupt the next section's pages
  • All new instructor videos to support training needs
  • Focus problem packages (problem, solution, template, rubric) with 3 problem options per cycle as follows:
    • Focus problem in the second edition
    • Focus problem from the first edition
    • One new focus problem per cycle
  • A new Instructor's Resource Manual** (available in Word and PDF formats for ease of editing items)
  • A new Instructor's Solution Manual
  • PowerPoints available for each section
You can use Learning Catalytics with the text now, but only the standard set of questions are available. We are having questions specific to Math Lit that will be included in the near future. I will update the blog with that info as I have it.

*The Instructor's Resource Manual is being completed and will be available in MML at the end of this week.

A ready-to-go course option is not available for this edition. Because it's so close to the fall semester and some instructors were counting on a ready-to-go course, I will be creating some ready-to-go versions this week. By the end of the day Wednesday of this week, I'll post course IDs that you can copy if you like of two different kinds of ready-to-go courses. One will be with the traditional use of homework (MML + book) and the other will be MML only. I'm teaching a face-to-face version of the course and an online one this fall. These types of MML courses can support each type of offering.

Tip:  If you would like to have all the Concepts and Applications problems from the homework in your MML course, you can create custom questions for the ones that aren't in MML and make the questions static and free response that you hand grade. Some questions aren't suited to being algorithmically regenerated. This option allows you to have all the problems from the text but in an online format, something that would support online course offerings more easily.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Math Lit 2e is now available!

The second edition of Math Lit is now available. Both instructor's and student editions are available now. The MyMathLab course will post the first week of August. In the MML course will be a new Instructor's Resource Manual, Instructor's Solutions Manual, PowerPoints, Learning Catalytics questions, additional videos, new instructor videos, and much more. The MML course will be ready for use in the fall semester.

I will be posting more on the new book soon. In the meantime, please contact your Pearson rep or check out this site if you'd like to see a copy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Upcoming webinar on second edition of Math Lit

I'll be giving a webinar tomorrow about the lessons we've learned in 5 years of teaching a math literacy course and how those changes have been incorporated into the second edition of Math Lit. The new edition is in print on June 6 and the MyMathLab course will be available the first week of August. If you will be teaching out of the new edition or you're considering using it, this webinar is for you.

To register, click here.

Webinar info:

Math Lit: Looking Forward, Looking Back
Thursday April 28, 3 pm EST

Monday, April 11, 2016


Are you going to the combined ORMATYC/WAMATYC meeting next week? If so, I'm doing a talk on lessons learned from 5 years of teaching Math Lit. The session is from 2:45 to 3:45 pm on Friday April 22. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Math Lit & Pathways: 5 Years Later slides

Here is the presentation I gave today on how things have changed and what we've learned after teaching the pathways course Math Lit for 5 years.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Math Literacy talk slides from National Math Summit

Below are the slides I used today in the panel discussion I was a part of. We use the text, Math Lit, that I've written with my co-author, Heather Foes. It is published by Pearson.

Math literacy for summit 2016 from kathleenalmy

This the handout I provided today.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Upcoming talks on Math Lit and pathways

I'll be doing three talks between this week and next week. If you're going to ICTCM, the National Math Summit, and/or NADE, please join us.

ICTCM - Friday March 11

NOTE: The following ICTCM session is offered in person or virtually for attendees.

Math Lit & Pathways: 5 Years Later
Kathleen Almy, Rock Valley College
Heather Foes, Rock Valley College

Pathways courses have evolved in the 5 years since their inception. In this session, we’ll share the lessons we’ve learned in our Math Lit course as well as how pathways are changing developmental math nationwide.

National Mathematics Summit - Wed March 16

Implementing Course Redesigns: Curriculum Options and Measuring Effect
9:15 – 10:20 Grand Ballroom E
Linda Zientek, Kathleen Almy, Jennifer Dorsey, Nancy Stano, and Paula Wilhite

This presentation will focus on the implementation of several course redesigns, with a focus on curriculum redesigns that focus on real-world concepts and collaborative learning. The importance of measuring effects on student performance and non-cognitive factors will be discussed. 

NADE - Thursday March 17

Math Lit & Pathways: 5 Years Later
Kathleen Almy, Rock Valley College
Pathways courses have evolved in the 5 years since their inception. In this session, we’ll share the lessons we’ve learned in our Math Lit course as well as how pathways are changing developmental math nationwide.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Math Lit's approach to homework: MML and more

Our goal with the Math Lit book and course is to get students to be competent problem solvers who are college ready. To get there, we wrote and sequenced problems and activities designed with that end goal in mind. But to solidify concepts, students need to practice. Heather and I had used MyMathLab for years and loved it, but knew it was best suited to skill type exercises. We wanted students to do more than that in the Math Lit course, so we created the conceptual homework in the book. It provides students with much more involved problems, not exercises. Those problems require a student to apply what they've learned in the section. But they can't do that if they don't have the base level skills. That's where MyMathLab comes in.

The two types of homework work together and were designed as such. The MyMathLab homework wasn't an afterthought or haphazardly chosen. Like the text, much thought and care went into its development so that the goals of the course could be met. It's certainly a different approach to homework but the main thing is it works. Students develop skill understanding and then extend that understanding by being challenged with more involved problems. Unlike most commercial math literacy texts, the approach we use is effective. We have seen students year after year progress in their understanding and succeed in the subsequent college level courses.

Here are some examples:

For students to be able to solve a problem like this...

...they must have skills in exponents rules.

For students to be able to solve a problem like this...

...they must have skills in the distance formula and Pythagorean theorem.

For students to be able to solve a problem like this...

...they must have skills in writing equations of lines.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Math Lit 2e sampler available!

If you would like to know more about the second edition of Math Lit, please check out the sampler below. It has an overview of the book, a list of some of the changes that have been made, an updated table of contents, and a sample section. We have made many improvements to this edition based on the feedback we got from users. In short, we listened and have worked to create a book that is simpler to use, more flexible, and more functional. Nearly every section in the first edition is included but improved, streamlined, and updated. There are also new topics, new problems, new focus problems, and new sections. If you're teaching a 4 credit hour course, the text is very easy to customize to work for your course. If you want to teach the course online, we've made that possible too. If you want to do some group work, no group work, or all group work, those options are also available.

The MyMathLab course will have many additions as well including additional focus problem packages, printable homework sets so that pages don't have to be taken out of the book, answers to book homework posted to MyMathLab instead of the text so instructors can hide them or make them available, more conceptual questions, many more videos, and online appendices to support students who need prerequisite content or intermediate algebra bridge material.

The new edition will be out in June and the MyMathLab course will be available some time this summer so that the text can be used this fall.

NOTE: The sample section shown is from the annotated instructor's edition. Blue annotated answers and instructor notes are included.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Math Lit 2e update and group quizzes

I've been a bit MIA on the blog for the past several months as Heather and I are knee deep in the creation of the second edition of Math Lit. It will be coming out this year. A blog with more info on it will be coming soon. We are very excited about it and what we can provide instructors and students in math literacy pathways courses.

If you are beginning your semester with a pathways course, consider using group quizzes if you haven't before. I was a skeptic about the idea of students assessing together, outside of projects, because of the fear of grade inflation. That has never been an issue because I don't quiz that often in groups, just once per unit, and my quizzes aren't a large part of the student's overall grade. I have many quizzes in MyMathLab that are individual.

So why use group quizzes?

Without question, I see students interact and engage during group quizzes than any other time in class. The reasons are simple: I give them hard problems where they need each other and points are attached, which automatically increases a student's level of concern. Because of these two components, students will really talk to each other, debate, and listen. There has been a great give and take. It's always really interesting and fun to watch and it reminds me why I believe in pathways courses so much: because they work. They expose students to meaningful math in ways they are not used to and they give students the opportunity to dig into problems instead of just rushing through a myriad of skills. There are many skills, of course, in pathways courses but they're not the focus. Problem solving, critical thinking, and creating 21st century learners are the goals. Group quizzes are one tool to encourage all of these.

If you're looking for good problems for group quizzes, consider using homework problems from Math Lit and/or the quizzes available in the Instructor Resource Manual of the Instructor Resource Center in the MyMathLab course for Math Lit.