Date: Aug 29, 2013 2:39 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: Will Richardson Why Schools and Algebra 1

On Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 3:43 AM, Jim Kearns <> wrote:

> I need help. I am a 60 year old math teacher teaching 15 year old lower
> middle 9th 10th and 11th grade students Algebra 1. I reckon this forum has
> the cutting edge thinkers in k-12 math education. Question: Can anyone
> give an old dog advise as to how to guide my use the mobile technology to
> learn Algebra 1? I appreciate any help you can render.

YouTube is a vast and growing stash of instructional videos, with Khan
Academy the tip of the iceberg. Most smartphones of a certain caliber and
above have a Youtube app and probably a generic browser. Tablets, same
thing. You want continuity with home equipment, where the bigger screens
are. You see some previews or sample on the smartphone, but don't watch
the whole thing until in a less distractions-filled setting.

I've been a high school math teacher in a high quality college prep
academy, and have followed the literature ever since, even though today I'm
private sector (wait, that's not what's different, the school was private

Phillips Academy in Andover, universally well-regarded as a top caliber
academy (college prep, quite expensive) offers an elective using
'Mathematics for the Digital Age and Programming in Python'. This would
normally not be considered "Algebra I" but it would be accessible to your
average 60 year old Algebra I teacher, even with no experience programming.
Skylit Publishing, thumbs up. You may have no opportunity to share what
you learn in a public school setting, or, on the other hand, you may see
you have just the surf board you need, to ride the next tsunami of change
(insert "yee hah!" if geographically appropriate).

Here's an interesting Youtube I share with lots of STEM students:

The algebra is subtle and relates to "half life" and therefore log and
exp. What's more interesting is the video satisfies a lot of student
curiosity about an event they hear about (the meltdown at Chernobyl) but
never get much of a story about. This documentary helps address that
lack. Talking heads include Gorbachev and Hans Blix, important historical

I should confess that I also taught world history for St. Dom's and
continue to do so in the private sector. When I talk about fractals, it's
more likely in the context of post Bourbakian graphicalism, a movement that
swung against the abracadabra of the formalisms-only school. As Mandelbrot
told me, Bourbaki was only that pathological because the better
mathematicians had all died in the war (Bourbaki was not a real person so
this is more a poke at a "corporate person", more like Exxon, which
personhood does "pro math" commercials I'd consider "Bourbakian" in some
ways -- lots of symbols flying by on screen, connoting "a cryptic language
you may never crack but that we insiders know" ("crypto-fascist" some call