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Highlighted Discussions

Math Tools community leaders select interesting conversations to highlight each week.

• wiki: [November 13]
Susan requests, "Has anyone ever set up a wiki page? Is it hard to do? How have you used it in your classes?"

• Materials in Probability & Statistics on Excel: [November 9]
McSCM asks, "Who knows (inexpensive) add-ons regarding materials in probability and statistics, for Excel ?"

• All Tools in Trigonometry: [November 4]
Susan explains, "I am trying to find a trig graphing utility that will label the x-axis with pi/4, pi/2, pi etc....(real greek letters)."

• homework: [September 21]
murali99 asks, "Getting the students to complete the assignments and home works is getting more difficult day after day. Any ideas to get it done easily?"

• Reflections on Graphing Math Tools: [August 1]
Swannee explains, "I feel this is much easier to use and to instruct than using the graphing calculator. How can we record the different data and save it to a table?"

• Educational Challenges: [July 28]
Mike writes, "I am trying to help my 10 year old daughter build a web site, for a variety of reasons. Can anyone give me any ideas for additional challenges that I could write for her?"

• Digging Dirt applied problem: [June 29]
jd announces, "Digging Dirt is the first of a number of applied problems that the eNLVM project will be publishing based on materials created by SRI International for a CD-ROM product called Math Insight http://mathinsight.ctl.sri.com/."

• Converting units tool: [June 29]
denisef asks, "I reviewed our sixth grade benchmarks and saw that our students were weak in converting units. The examples on the tool at this site are too difficult. Could you prepare activities in which students only convert standard to standard measures (example, yards to feet, inches to yards) or metric to metric (centimeters to meters, etc.) "

• How can you focus students on learning rather than gaming?: [June 26]
cfance writes, "I believe that a challenge for students would be that they may feel that they are playing games and not learning."

• Welcome NSDL workshop users next week: [June 23]
Steve W. invites, "Next week we'll be working with about 35 middle school teachers and teacher leaders, half from Houston, TX, and half from Philadelphia, PA. We hope you will support and join them as they learn about tools for the classroom and their use for developing algebraic reasoning with their students."

• Math Worksheets Online [May 27]
Nathan asks, "I'm looking into getting a subscription to Math Worksheets Online. Can anyone offer their experiences before I purchase?"

• Looking for feedback to improve Line Gem 1 [May 15]
Sulan Dun writes, "Hi, I'm looking for feedback from anyone who teaches graphing linear equations on the coordinate plane."

• Order of Operations (BOMDAS) [May 11]
James Goodman explains "I try to teach without using Bodmas at all and just stress the importance of using brackets to aviod ambiguity."

• Integration [May 5]
natty writes, "I would like to know which kind of tech that I have to use in order to integrate the following equation:"

• Explorelearning science and math [May 5]
Susan asks, "Has anyone used any of the http://explorelearning.com shockwave science applets to teach math topics?"

• Probability & Simultaneous Equations Java Applets [April 28]
Sione writes, "I have just put up two applets in the in the web site shown below. One applet is for Probability calculations, where it does experimental simulations, equally likely events, probability tree....The second applet is for solving step-by-step of a pair of simultaneous equations either by 'substitution' or 'elimination' methods."

• Web Logs ("blogs") for teaching and learning mathematics [March 31]
Craig writes, "Frances Harris (our librarian, and author of the book 'I Found It On The Internet') recently showed me what appears to be an effective use of a web log as a teaching tool for a Canadian math teacher, Darren Kuropatwa. I encourage you to investigate what this teacher has done, and to comment on it in this discussion."

• Looking for feedback to improve Graph Mole [March 20]
SulanDun writes, "I'm looking for feedback from anyone who teaches graphing (x,y) points on the coordinate plane."

• MIMIO versus Smart Boards [March 16]
Clyde asks, "What are the pros and cons for Mimio over Smart Board?"

• Graphing nth roots on TI-89 [March 1]
travrt explains, "Ok so I know how to enter in a nth root on a ti89, but it seems when I go to graph it I only get half of it?"

• surface area and volume for prism [February 20]
safa says, "I want to use computer to teach my students. Can you give me a link to help teach this unit?"

Hugh writes, "I am completly lost when it comes to 'slope of a line.' Can anybody help?"

Lil asks, "Has anyone tried any lessons using using the Shodor If so, how did it go? Any I am still trying to come up with an effective lesson for 8th grade Algebra students."

• Demise of Green Globs [January 10]
David Sunburst replies, "I spotted this thread and thought you would like to know that we and the product's authors have just begun development on a Mac OSX version of Green Globs that we hope can be released sometime in 2006."

• Graphing [December 22]
DE explains, "I am looking for a program that I can give a few student who need to chart 3 different items, daily for 1-5 months, from a -10 to +10 Does anyone have anything that would be easy enough to do, for a 5, 6, and 7th grade student?"

• Functions as objects? [November 29]
Susan asks, "I was wondering if there is a way to plot a function in Sketchpad, and then have it behave as an object."

• Pythagorean Tree Sketchpad help [November 23]
aterner explains, "I want to 'build' a Pythagorean Tree from scratch. I know that it will involve some iteration, but I can't get that command to be active. Does anyone have a lesson (including steps) to create the Pythagorean Tree?"

• Fraction & decimal darts - new versions [November 13]
Ihor let us know that there is an updated version of Fraction Darts now available and also a decimal version.

• TI84 or TI89 [November 2]
chief asks, "Since both the TI84 and the TI89 are comparable in price, which in your opinion, do you think would be more useful to me?"

• Searching for the right tool [October 26]
proofpad explains, "There is a wooden cone that is sliced into the different curves that my school loves to use for showing a hands-on version of where ellipses and the like come from." He asks if anyone has an idea of how to locate the physical or electronic versions.

• Microsoft Producer [October 25]
Susan says, "Has anyone worked with Microsoft Producer? Have you converted Powerpoint slides to a presentation with audio using producer? Have you put a "Producer" presentation on the web? Do you know any educational resources that I can look at on the web that were created with Producer?"

• Coordinate Graphing Transitions [October 16]
Jeff comments, "By far the tools with the biggest impact at the start of the year are one on-line, one download (free) and a Windows Office product...."

• TI83 Graphing Calculator Online [September 19]
Mary asks, "I would like my students to access through the internet or as a software package that can be installed on a computer a program that acts like a TI83 or TI84 graphing calculator. Does anyone know of such a program?"

• Continuity and student learning outcomes [September 3]
Jimbo says, "I have a gut feeling that, in mathematics, I'd like to see the students more often for shorter periods of time. Does anyone know of any current quantitative research along these lines...?"

• Analyzing how Tools are used: Stories and Reviews from the Field [August 20]
Gene writes, "Some folks think that writing stories is really a bit daunting and it's harder to see how it directly relates to your teaching."

• TI83 Graphing Calculator Online [August 20]
Mary asks, "I would like my students to access through the internet or as a software package that can be installed on a computer a program that acts like a TI83 or TI84 graphing calculator. Does anyone know of such a program?"

• Graphing Calculators [July 28]
lm62 writes, "I'm new here and the mom of a 13 year old who wants to buy a graphing calculator now that they're on sale for back to school.... Any thoughts?"

• Demise of Green Globs [July 25]
Ihor asks, "Could a flash version of Globs be developed?"

• How do you like it? [July 24]
Cami explains, "I'm new at making an educational game, and I would love to hear from you. Any feedback would be awesome and would make us believe others are out there appreciating our creation!"

• Smartboard files [July 23]
Susan asks, "Will resources for Smartboard ever be included in Technology Types? Has anyone started developing and saving Smartboard files? Is there a way that we could someday exchange Smartboard files through Math Tools?"

• Number Grid game, anyone? [July 12]
Annie exclaims, "I'd love to see a couple of different applets based on the use of the number grid."

• Experimental/Theoretical Probabilities [July 8]
When discussing experimental and theoretical probabilities, how can you articulate to students that the experimental probability approaches the theoretical probability as more experiments are done?"

• Geometry Activities [June 22]
Deana asks, "Does anyone have any "great" geometry activities dealing with polygons or nets?"

• Jeff's Friday ToolFest Question [June 17]
Jeff asks, " What non-tech/low tech tools are teachers using? Should MathTools make a push to include more non-tech/low-tech tools? What areas? How?"

• Jeff's Thursday ToolFest Question [June 16]
Jeff asks, "Do you think it is important to develop and maintain an independent set of tools, lesson and procedures that are readily available to classroom teachers and students everywhere?"

• Identifying Tools for Your Specific Needs [June 16]
Wanda states, "The focus of the discussion I'm facilitating today is to help educators identify tools to meet specific needs they have in the classroom. With an audience of educators and resource developers for all age ranges, what a perfect opportunity to receive input on what you need!"

• Jeff's Wednesday ToolFest Question [June 15]
Jeff asks, "Is there good interactive-type software for math before algebra?"

• Don's Top N Tools Lists [June 14]
Don asks, "I thought it would be useful if there were Top 10 lists that newcomers could use to get started..."

• Jeff's Tuesday ToolFest Question [June 14]
Jeff asks, "What is/are the biggest problem(s) to using math software tools in the classroom or for the class?"

• Cabri 3D Introduction [June 13]
Jon reports what happened during today's first Remote Tool Fest Feature Event.

• Jeff's Monday ToolFest Question [June 13]
Jeff asks, "How are tools (other than Sketchpad, Excel, Fathom and graphing calculators) being used - either in or outside the classroom?"

• Is a rhombus a kite? [May 6]
Susan asks, "Is a rhombus a kite? Is a square a kite? Any ideas? Has it changed over the years, or is it just me?"

• Fraction Track Revisited [May 2]
Ihor reports, "I'm working on a fractions project with 6th grade teachers and students. I tried the Fraction Track game and found it was too difficult/confusing for many of the students."

• How technology can enhance math learning [May 1]
Cynthia writes, "I'd like to hear about how technology SUPPORTS learning in your class."

• What is a binomial? [April 29]
Eric Goolish notes, "Recently, I had a 60 minute discussion with fellow high school teachers about what is a binomial?"

• Great Math Software [April 1]
MrsHawK exclaims, "I have found and love the software at efofex.com. I use their equation editor, fxdraw and their graphing program, and find them very easy to use. Just wanted to share."

• Representation of concepts [March 11]
ycc states, "I am interested in the roles of different representations in understanding concepts of mathematics in particular, and any discipline in general."

• New Balance beam Activity on the Matti site [March 4]
Ihor notes, "I was enjoying the new version of Balance beam with negative numbers until I ran into some bugs. Can others try it and confirm or not my result?"

• Tool Usage Sites March 3]
Ihor comments, "Tackweed asks, "Would those of you who have current web pages where various math tools are used by classes/students please provide the url? I am looking for specific tool use in context as opposed to listings of tools."

• The NEW Classroom [February 24]
Susan asks, "I have a friend who has the opportunity to give input on purchases for all the new mathematics classroom. What should she buy in the way of technology? Think ten years out because the funds may disappear!"

• More on Drill and Kill, practice and learning [January 18]
Ihor comments, "Interesting article in today's Education Life by Alison Gopnik - How We Learn. I thought the last two paragraphs might stir some conversation about how to approach practice in math."

• What Is a Triangle? [January 2]
Rabeldin comments, "I suspect that there are subtle errors in school mathematics where we mentally substitute an informal definition for the formal one and generalize improperly. Has anyone spent any time on such issues?"

• Midsegment of a rectangle? [December 8]
Cynthia asks, "I remember having discussions with mathematicians that trapezoids should include the family of parallelograms. Do you agree? Then should it also include the family of triangles?"

• Upper middle schoolers that haven't yet mastered multiplication facts [December 6]
Bethy writes, "We have a number of students who, at 7th and 8th grade, still don't know 75% or more of the multiplication facts.What does the research indicate? Does anyone know of an effective method for equipping these students with a procedure so that they can move ahead?"

• Left Right Translation of Functions [November 29]
Susan asks, "Most students have no problems understanding a real world application that shows a vertical shift in a function. What is so much harder to explain is the horizontal shift. Does anyone have a good way to explain this?"

• Research concerning most beneficial amount of time spent on math [November 22]
Tara posts the question, "We are wondering if there is significant research about the most beneficial amount of time that should be spent per day on math."

• Pick-a-block tool (middle level) [November 17]
Tackweed writes, "I am curious as to whether I should include the simulated experimental probability and the theoretical probability as part of the summary, or should I leave it for student calculation."

• Role of MathDrag'n program in education [October 28]
Haertchen explains, "I have developed a rudimentary program that allows the user to manipulate algebra through drag-and-drop. I am more interested here in whether it would be a useful educational tool, and if so what it would be useful for."

• Mutually Exclusive and Complementary Events [October 26]
Tackweed writes, "I would appreciate any supplementary materials, approaches and/or experiences for incorporating the concepts of complementary and mutually exclusive events to independent events at the middle school level."

• Graphing in four quadrants-a tool search [October 17]
Tackweed writes, "Recently my classes completed an exercise designed to acquaint them with graphing in four quadrants. Since it is my intention to expose students to as many resources as possible, I did a search through Math Tools to see what I could find that would be appropriate for the subject and the students."

• Exponents [October 1]
PWR writes, "I always have trouble teaching exponents. Does anyone have ... anything at all that helps students...?"

• Fractions, concept and calculations [September 30]
Cynthia writes, "How do you teach conceptual understanding of fractions? What tools have you found to be effective, and likewise how do you teach computational fluency with fractions and what tools are effective?"

• Teaching the Concept of Functions [September 23]
Susan asks, "What are some ways that you teach this with meaning? Do you have an analogy that really works for kids? What about composition of functions..."

• new Data and Statistics project? [September 7]
SteveW describes and asks for input about a project with some folks down at Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics who are very interested in developing educational uses of the data they produce and know about.

• Special Needs Discussion [September 1]
Brienne explains, "I'm new to math tools but have found many links that will be an asset to Special Education and am curious if there are any other Special Ed. teachers who have other resources or recommendations for tools to use.

• Using TI-84 in Math A classroom Discussion [August 28]
Suzanne writes, "Is it appropriate for math teachers to allow use of the TI 84+ Silver in a Math A classroom? Are there any Math A (high school course for students not ready yet to take Algebra 1) teachers with an opinion to share?"

• Computer Tools at PreK-2 Discussion [August 26]
Bethany asks, "I have some concern, and I've heard it voiced by other teachers who teach at this level too, that using computer tools to explore mathematics is really not appropriate."

• Cost vs. benefit of using technology Discussion [August 5]
From a teacher's perspective, what about a new technology would make it worth using? What makes it worth it to you?

• Teaching Mathematics as a Science [August 5]
Bethany writes, "It seems that the pervading philosophy of teaching and learning mathematics is pushing us as educators [...] to make math more of a discovery process than just giving students the concepts and trying to process them.... What do you think?"

• Your Favorite Tools [August 4]
Don Link started this thread in the Roundtable Discussion and a few other people have chimed in so far. He writes, "I'm fairly new to the Math Tools community, and I thought it would be useful if some of you 'longer-timers' would share your N favorite tools cataloged on the site (I'm thinking like your top 10, but any value of N would be fine)."

• Traffic Jam Activity [August 2]
To kick off the Tool Fest, we worked on the Traffic Jam Activity. We worked through the mathematics of the activity before talking about how technology could add to the learning.

• Math formulas in pure HTML - Developer's Discussion [July 17]
Have you had any trouble inserting math formulas in your web pages? A user writes, "I too. I experimented with images, applets and MathML..."

• Software Developers Discussion [May 29]
A developer has a question about what may be a peculiarity of JavaScript. Another developer responds with some detailed suggestions.

• Lulu -- Tool Discussion [May 11]
The discussion begins with a user pointing out that this game doesn't do just one thing but allows students to develop a broad and deep understanding of the concepts. A second user points out that the tool should be cataloged under more topics so that teachers can see the wide range of concepts it addresses.

• Histogram -- Tool Discussion [May 10]
Members weigh the limitations of different histogram tools, including Minitab, Excel, and applets by statcrunch.com and the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.

• Graph Sketcher -- Tool Discussion [May 5]
Members compare the relative merits of handheld graphing calculators and a web-based counterpart.

• PreCalculus - General Discussion [April 27]
An ongoing task in Math Tools will be to make sure that all of the links are current. Here is an example of how a user alerts us to a site that is giving an error. The good news is that after communication with the webmaster of the Math Cove Project site, it's just a change in servers and the problem will be fixed soon.