If you haven’t heard about Khan Academy, then you probably aren’t in the field of education. There has been tremendous criticism of Khan Academy by educators because it ultimately just lectures to students and many educators – at least the ones I keep up with – prefer having students approach math in a different way. Math is often seen as something that you learn and then practice. With more practice, you’re supposed to – with the traditional thought behind mathematics education – get better at math but I don’t think the point of math is to be able to memorize and practice problems over and over until you’ve mastered the skill. Although this can be one way people learn math, I don’t think they’ll truly understand it this way. Many other teachers really like Khan Academy because it does the lecturing for them. The program does have its benefits as it does allow students to work and learn at their own pace. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed teachers just have their entire class watch a lesson in lieu of them teaching it, then pass out a worksheet for them to practice this new concept that they have just “learned.” While I may not be its biggest fan, I know Khan Academy does help some students. So for those of you that may get some benefit from it, check it out. Here’s a sample of what the videos are like:
Here’s just a quick heads up on the awesomeness that is NASA. They have a page dedicated to math! My favorite are the “Problem Archives” where teachers can present real data, pictures, graphs, etc. from NASA to their students in an already lesson-friendly PDF. There’s nothing better than supplementing a textbook with this kind of stuff!
Since Borders is going out of business, I had to use a gift card I had so I purchased Bill Amend’s themed FoxTrot collection:
In general, this is a pretty amazing little collection. I highly recommend it to those that are especially fond of math, science, and/or computer programming. As you can see in the above photo, I took my new gift to myself outside and decided to share some particularly mathy gems in one of the least-tech ways possible, by taking pictures of them. Please excuse the quality, I just don’t have a scanner. Enjoy.
It’s the question that makes math teachers cringe: When will I ever use this?
It’s true that many of the exercises that teachers make students go through may never be used outside of math class. What I hope is that students see math as a different way of thinking about problems and how to solve those problems.
“There are people who say, ‘I’ll never need this math. These trig identities from 10th grade, or 11th grade.’ Or maybe you never learned them. Here’s the catch: Whether or not you ever again use the math that you learned in school, the act of having learned the math established a wiring in your brain that didn’t exist before, and it’s the wiring in your brain that makes you the problem solver.”
I have Dan Meyer’s blog on my Google Reader and just saw that he is doing a small project with Buzz Math where you send in a short 15 second clip of something happening along with a graph of that situation and they will make you a short movie. Like this:
They’re not doing it forever so you’d have to hurry. You can also check out Dan’s TED talk below:
There was an article in Wired Magazine (January 2010) online that showcased a photographer’s art in which she graphed her images. You can also check out Nikki Graziano’s website – which is worth taking a look at even if you don’t like math.
This could be a really engaging project for students in both high and low levels of math. Students in Algebra or Geometry could graph simple lines and curves, while students at more advanced levels could graph more complicated functions and shapes.