22 August, 2014
Volume 19 No. 34
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In This Issue

Problems of the Week

The Smithsonian's Transcription Center Launches

100+ Curriculum Inspirations Videos, and 1 Inspiring Video


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Problems of the Week


The Problems of the Week (PoWs) have kicked off for the 2014-2015 academic year!

We've recently changed some of the prompts and buttons that greet students as they submit their ideas online. In the words of one of our PoW teachers, this update "relays to students that we're committed to the idea-feedback-revision cycle that can help move student learning forward."

See the full schedule of submissions and solutions by consulting the PoW calendar:


Teachers with Full Memberships or higher can still view PoWs from the 2013-14 academic year:


Want to get in on the fun, but don't have an account yet? Register a trial:


The Smithsonian's Transcription Center Launches


As the world's largest museum and research complex, the Smithsonian Institution has massive archives. Even in an age of digitization and optical character recognition technology, preserving these collections presents challenges: computers cannot easily decipher texts where ink has faded from the paper — or individual scrawl resembles hieroglyphics.

So the Smithsonian began to leverage the power of crowds online. After a year of beta testing, nearly a thousand volunteers had successfully transcribed over 13,000 scanned pages of archived documents, including personal correspondence of members of the Monuments Men.

Last Tuesday, the Smithsonian invited the public to log in to its Transcription Center and shine more light on primary source materials: everything from handwritten Civil War journals to the personal letters of famous artists; from hundred-year-old botany specimen labels to examples of early American currency -- plus mathematical materials, such as

As the current Secretary has observed, "For years, the vast resources of the Smithsonian were powered by the pen; they can now be powered by the pixel." Pitch in by first reviewing the instructions and learning how the online process works:


Then sign up by creating a username, entering an e-mail address — and solving an arithmetic question!


100+ Curriculum Inspirations Videos


The one hundredth Curriculum Inspirations video hit YouTube earlier this month.

Each clip shows former high school teacher James Tanton tackling a problem from the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Tanton, who nowadays conducts Math for America's professional development program, sketches and writes on a big sheet of glass that appears to be suspended between himself and the viewer. Scroll down the page of each YouTube video for links to Curriculum Burst and Strategy essays.

First featured in these pages last autumn, Curriculum Inspirations receives support from the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation and the TBL and Akamai Foundations.

Last week, Tanton also posted a more personal video. In it, he responds to students who participated in an MAA Connected Classroom Google+ Hangout. They had asked the Princeton mathematics PhD, "What was the hardest thing you learned when studying math?" His three minutes of reflection testify to the power of perseverance — and humility:


For much more of Tanton's "uncluttered and joyous approach to school mathematics," check out his Thinking Mathematics! site:



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