Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love and Mathematics / EduBlogger (ED504)

Dan Meyer's Blog (dy/dan) is the center of my blogosphere. He not only brings in his own content, but he is great about aggregating other posts that he has read. On my latest visit to, dy/dan, I came across a link to Sarah Hagan's blog and a couple of posts that she had written. 

The first post I came across was about Relations and Functions. In the example she used in class, she stated that if Bob is dating Jill and Sue, then he's not in a functional relationship. If you wanted to see the relationship described as ordered pairs, it would look like {(Bob, Jill), (Bob, Sue)} -> Not a function. The example made me laugh and apparently made her students laugh, too. It activated existing schema surrounding the phrase "functional relationship", even if the example was based upon the social norms of rural Oklahoma. The use of example instantly got me thinking about XKCD.
XKCD: Greatest Comic Ever
We can always make use of humor as a way of gaining students attention and the the use of familiar language to convey mathematical meaning, even if it is built around puns.

Another recent posting was titled Good Things is a Great thing. In the attempt to build a positive classroom environment, Ms. Hagan takes a few minutes each Monday morning to have students share one good thing that has happened to them. Originally, the Okie thought it was a bit hokey, but the students have latched onto it. The post got me thinking about the importance of building relationships between students and the teachers. We are teaching math to people. The emphasis is on the students, not the content. Getting the students to talk about themselves and their interests is going to be a necessary condition before they are likely to engage in a conversation about mathematics. Starting off with good things helps to make students comfortable in the classroom.

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