LaTex Tutorial

While I’ve been playing in Mathemtatics, I’ve been toying with the idea of publishing some of my findings. So, to so so I looked into relearning Latex. I figured I can use this for writing tests (Current word processors suck at using math symbols), publishing my work, and adding content to my online calculus course supplement. I came accross a fantastic website full of easy to follow tutorials to get me going published by Mrs. Krummel. There are other great resources on her website for those of you teaching Advanced Placement math courses.

check out her videos here

Online STEM Teaching Community

The S2TLC Community is building an online community where STEM teachers can support one another. currently we are using the University of Massachusetts open campus server to host a moodle site. This will have the feel of an online course format for those of you familiar with Blackboard, Moodle, or other similar CMS. The site is not currently being offered to the public as we are piloting this idea. The resource will be open to individuals interested in STEM education. To participate, users will have to register with our group and will be approved once status as a STEM educator is established.

The link to the UMass open course website is . We are listed as The NSF-Noyce S²TLC Virtual Community of Practice under the courses panel.

3/4 Nelson Defense

Wrestling season has ended, but many lessons from our school’s first season as a varsity program are still bouncing around in my head. One problem that gave our wrestlers difficulty in particular was defending against the 3/4 nelson. One defense I found was to sprawl out, look away from the opponent, strip the hands from the head, and fight back to base. There has to be a better method other than giving up position even further. Breaking down the move, I see that collapsing the head of the down wrestler creates the outside shoulder and arm to collapse, thus allowing the breakdown in position. One idea would be to replace the outside arm support by bringing up the outside leg then hand fighting and using this leverage for shoulder pressure. Any thoughts or resources to direct me to would be greatly appreciated.

Sage Math Software

During my stumblings into Mathematics I was extremely excited to find FREE Mathematics software that is comparable to programs like Mathematica and Maple. This has a text command line driven interface which is a bit confusing and awkward to navigate at first. but, there is a large support community and a lot of tutorials to help figure things out. I’ll be using this quite a bit in the future in my own research and explorations. There is both a cloud based server or a downloadable version of the software. I am currently using this as I do some refresher work with Complex Numbers. Hopefully, I’ll be publishing my first notes here soon.

The link to the site is

Exponential Growth Lab

There is a lot on the web for students to model and explore exponential growth patterns. A quick web search pulled up a lot of options for me. I really liked this one: m&m lab. Just be warned you need a lot of m&m’s. Some groups had populations over 400. I placed the students in pairs or groups of 3. Any more than this I feel would be very unproductive for some members. This was a great way to demonstrate how the growth pattern was produced by a constant (or near constant) multiplicative change as apposed to a constant additive change brought by linear growth patterns. I will emphasize this again as the class moves towards learning about sequences and series.

e and natural logarithm

Over the past few years I have been teaching exponential an logarithmic functions as part of my course load. A student teacher I was working with found this great website which explains many Math topics in easy to grasp visual and contextual ways. I really like the authors explanation on compound and continuous interest as it leads to the famous (1+1/x)^x formula. I use this explanation with a little hands on activity in the classroom and it really helps.

The website is

Music and Acoustics in the Mathematics classroom

I am currently teaching a hybrid algebra 2/trigonometry course this year. I know there is a ton of acoustics material that relates directly into my curriculum. In particular I am looking at exponential and logrithmic models (i.e. fret placement on string instruments) and modeling sound with trigonometric functions. I have a few online resources, but not enough to create an entire unit of study. Any help in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated.

Direct Variation Using Virtual Lab

I recently gave a lesson on direct variation. I normally do an informal exploration using Hooke’s law to demonstrate this. This year I found a website with virtual science labs through the University of Colorado. This website has a ton of awesome interactive activities. I think the lab lost something when I took away the physical Hooke’s law devices, but the simulation gave me a lot more avenues to explore. I look forward to expanding this lesson in the years to come.

Link to the PHET website:

Link to my activity worksheet:

hooke’s law (word document)

Professional Learning Communities

A major part of this project has been the development of professional learning communities (PLC) or Communities of Practice (COP) within our school districts. In other words, each participating Master Teaching Fellow has been tasked to gather a group of teachers in his or her school to look critically at work done within their field. For example some groups have formed to look at and evaluate student assessment, others have been looking at the new teacher evaluation system being implemented in Massachusetts, and groups, such as my own, have been looking at the quality of student work. To do this we have been using protocols to drive our discussions pulled from the National School Reform Faculty.

So far we have had a lot of success implementing our PLC. Our administration has made these PLCs as a mandatory part of our professional development time. Each department is asked to use our department meetings to run these groups. As such, our group has consisted of mostly Middle and High School Math teachers. On occasion we have had other department members join our group to help get ideas or create a larger group for more productive discussions. Although this is mandated time, most of the teachers are embracing this opportunity to learn from each other and grow as a school district. Using these protocols have created efficient, streamlined, discussions that allow everyone to participate and share. I’m excited about the possibilities and camaraderie we have forged so far.