Mr. Kline's Mathematics

Math begins here…

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Still plugging away…

I have to figure out a better way to write my Keynotes. It is taking way too long. I am planning up to ten videos for a two week unit. The pythagorean theorem is more complicated in a presentation because of the temptation to have squares and other things flying in and out. It takes time…fun…but takes time.

I’ve set up a static website

I went ahead and set up a static web site for my class. I am doing it at google sites, which is pretty basic, but is free. I will try to see if I can pull off a class web site through this blog, or if a more static site is best.

Some preliminary plans for next year

I am tentatively thinking about setting up a series of modules organized around curriculum units. I want to set up core units that would be at a basic or low proficiency level and proficient and advanced units to give students a chance to work material of a more advanced nature.  I want to set up these units like a video game in that students will progress up the grading scale in the same way that gamers level up in a first-person shooter. As students master units, they move up the grading scale. I wanted proficient and advanced units to have a greater value without allowing students to game the system. I want a student who masters all core units to get a C in the class. But I don’t want a student to master only some of the C units along with a couple of more advanced units to get a higher grade. All students have to attempt (and master) the core units, but I still need proficient and advanced to be worth more. My solution is to give a large bonus or power up for mastering all the units in one designation (e.g. all the core units.) So even if a student does master some proficient or advanced they would have to get all the core units to have enough points to guarantee a C in the class.

Second video in series.

Another video in the same series.

Redo of the first video

Not sure it is as good, script wise, but I made the graphics easier to read.

First Video

This is my first screencast. It has some flaws and it is more of a proof of concept than anything else. It will (or a future version) be the first in a unit I hope to start in April.

Screencast software options

I am looking at two screencast software options. One of them, Screenflow, is pretty nice, but about 100 dollars (there is a education discount, I think.) It gives decent editing options and is easy to use. The other is Jing, which has a free version and a 15 dollar a year paid. It is also very simple, limits files to five minutes (which, with seventh graders, may be a feature) but severely limits editing. You cannot, for example, edit the beginning or the ending of the video in Jing. For example, to use a Keynote as the base of my video, I need to start Jing, then start the Keynote by clicking the play button. But that play button is not accessible until Jing begins recording. In the video, the view sees the Mac desktop followed by the mouse clicking the “Play” button at which point Keynote begins the presentation. In Screenflow you can edit that sloppy beginning part out. In Jing, you are stuck with the less professional beginning of the video. There are some less than perfect work arounds. I will be posting some more thoughts as I work out some beginning plans.

Thoughts about next year.

I am already thinking about next year and have gone a little wild. I want to set up a system of using video lectures (accessible on YouTube and in the class) and specific modules that allow students to proceed at their own pace. The basic modules would be exactly that, basic. If students mastered only the basic material they would get a C, while those who mastered the higher level material would be able to get A’s or B’s. I am basing some of what I am doing on a teacher in Montana. Look at his site. Cool.

iPads in the classroom

iPads in the classroom

After years as a teacher with crappy computers and precious little technology (well, we do have a SmartBoard) we are getting iPads. It may take a while for us to get full classroom sets, but we are on the way.

Why aren’t women as well represented as men in math related fields?

study recently came out which was entitled “Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement?”. One of the authors created and posted a video describing the paper, which you can view here.

As a preview, there seem to be four main points of the paper and the video:

  1. The papers on stereotype threat normalize with respect to SAT scores which is bad.
  2. Evidence for stereotype threat is therefore weak.
  3. We should therefore stop putting all of our resources into combating stereotype threat.
  4. We should instead do something easy like combating stereotypes themselves.

Before we go into the details of the paper, we need a bit of context. For that reason, this post is split into three parts. The first addresses a meta-issue, namely that of the “null hypothesis” in this discussion. A frustration that I have, and that I think is shared by many of the women I know in math, is that the (often unspoken) working hypothesis is that in fact women are just not as talented, and it is somehow up to us women to prove this otherwise, presumably by convincing men that we’re geniuses.
The authors of the above paper fall prey to this disingenuous line of thought, by proclaiming stereotype threat is an insufficient explanation but not offering any alternative explanations. This sets up a kind of implied false dichotomy: if it isn’t explained by such and such, it must mean girls are dumb.

Read rest here.  Women in math

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