Math Forum Internet News

Volume 4, Number 8A  -  February 1999 Discussions

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25 February 1999                                 Vol. 4, No. 8A


  This special issue of the Math Forum's weekly newsletter
  highlights recent interesting conversations on Internet 
  math discussion groups.

  For a full list of these groups with links to topics covered
  and information on how to subscribe, see:


  Replies to individual discussions should be addressed to
  the appropriate group rather than to the newsletter editor.

______________________________ + ______________________________

                     FEBRUARY SUGGESTIONS:  

AMTE - the mailing list of the Association of Mathematics 
Teacher Educators, archived by the Math Forum at:
- My personal list of mysterious difficulties in teaching 
  Math 101 (18 Jan. 1999)

 "... in all my experience with this class there is still a 
  list of student difficulties that totally baffle me, and 
  in all the discussions that I have heard about math 
  education I have never heard them properly addressed. So 
  I have decided to write them down and see if other math 
  instructors have encountered the same frustrations and 
  if maybe by putting our heads together we can better 
  understand them..."  - Shelley Walsh

  Teaching strategies address absolute value; getting rid 
  of fractions when solving equations by multiplying through 
  by the LCM; using formulas to multiply polynomials; 
  factoring by recognizing something as a perfect square; 
  solving 2 equations in 2 unknowns by graphing or by 
  substitution; and graphing 2-variable linear inequalities. 
  Included are thoughts about the visual approach: students 
  not reading mathematical expressions as having meaning in 
  language, but manipulating them more like pictures; 
  memorization; the difficulty of covering a great many topics 
  in relatively few contact hours (less really is more); and 
  the potential advantages of pointing out "pitfalls" in 
  advance of their occurrence.
______________________________ + ______________________________

MATH-HISTORY-LIST - an unmoderated group dealing with the 
history of mathematics, archived by the Math Forum at:

- Infinitesimals vs. indivisibles (21 Sept. 1998, responded
  to on 10 Feb. 1999)

 "Victor Katz has referred to the distinction between
  'infinitesimals' and 'indivisibles'... is there a 
  mathematical (as opposed to a purely philosophical) 
  distinction here? In other words, is there a mathematical 
  theory of 'infinitesimals' and one of 'indivisibles'; and
  do these two types of mathematical objects have different 
  properties?" - Stacy Langton

  Discussing whether there is more than a verbal distinction 
  between the two, ranging from Kepler to modern systems of 
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MATH-TEACH, a list established to facilitate the discussion of 
teaching mathematics, including conversations about the NCTM 
standards (although not officially sponsored by or affiliated 
with the NCTM); open to subscription, unmoderated, and 
archived by the Math Forum at:
- Real-life applications (12 Feb. 1999)
 "I am interested in finding real-life applications of 
  polynomials (adding, multiplying, dividing, etc.)  Students 
  are always asking 'when am I ever going to use this?'  
  Thanks for your input!" - Cathy Wilkerson

  Some suggestions and ideas are offered, including a URL
  for "Seven Applications of Polynomials"; ideas on savings
  accounts and compound interest; and a debate whether 
  mathematical models are ever "real-enough-life" applications.
______________________________ + ______________________________

NUMERACY, for those interested in the discussion of educational 
issues around adult mathematical literacy, archived at:

- Facilitating Lifelong Learning (1 Feb. 1999)

 "Our Dutch adult education system has been changing in the 
  frame of 'Lifelong Learning' to a system of more independent, 
  'teacher-free', cooperative learning, more short courses per 
  year, more distance learning and use of technology through 
  computer-based programs, Internet, etc., certification on 
  different levels, continuous intake and more possibilities 
  to start whenever people want to start a course, to work in 
  people's own time and pace and to finish when people are 
  ready to finish their course..." - Mieke van Groenestijn

  Is the idea of lifelong learning impractical in math because
  certain basics must be understood before moving on?

______________________________ + ______________________________

  We hope you will find these selections useful, and that you
  will browse and participate in the discussion group(s) of
  your choice.  

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