Monthly Archives: October 2010

We Take a Field Trip

Last week I took my class on a field trip.  I had everyone in class think of the last digit of their phone number.  I told half of them to put a minus sign in front of  that number.  Then … Continue reading

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When Not to Use an Equal Sign

I keep thinking about equal signs – when to use them and what do they mean.  Here is an example of when not to use an equal sign. p = plane I require that students define their variables when they … Continue reading

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“FOIL” Multiplication Is Overrated

Today my class decided that the “foil” method of multiplying two binomials is overrated. The following diagram contains the series of steps that I took them through. In step one I asked them to multiple 78 by 26 by hand … Continue reading

Posted in Curriculum, Pedagogy | 1 Comment

A Short Grammar Lesson

Once a week I require my students to write up several problems  using correct grammar.  Yesterday I wrote this on the overhead. 1 is the loneliest number. I asked the class what was wrong with this sentence.  No response.  Many … Continue reading

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An Experiment with Wolfram|Alpha

I have been thinking about equal signs lately (The subject of a forthcoming blog entry) and decided to see what Wolfram|Alpha thought.  Here is my first try. If you give Wolfram|Alpha an equation like without instructions, it responds with the  … Continue reading

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My Fraction Rant

It is a common complaint among math instructors that entering freshman do not know how to add, subtract, multiply or divide fractions.  Judging by the look on their faces  I would say that they actually fear them.  The reasons, I … Continue reading

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Factoring Trinomials – A Road Not Usually Taken

Let’s factor .  Did you get ?  [You can check this on Wolfram|Alpha.  Just copy and paste: (sqrt(10)x+sqrt((2*i*sqrt(30)-13)x)+i*sqrt(3))(sqrt(10)x-sqrt((2*i*sqrt(30)-13)x)+i*sqrt(3)) into the search box.] Usually we find simpler linear factors when we factor a trinomial. In our case we would get or … Continue reading

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