AMATYC: Non-STEM Developmental Math Course and Medieval Math

I scanned the handout from the first session. The course does not include algebra which made it not quite what I thought and not quite what we need so I left. Let me know if you are nonetheless interested in the hand out.

The session next door was about the development and preservation of math in the Medieval period. It was interesting. It was probably not worth $100 for the College. I might use the history from time to time to introduce topics- if the hand out is made available in the proceedings.

Global Numeracy, Global Change

Some QR projects are at:

These are worth a look as they include more ideas for exponential projects and expansions like delayed exponential growth (essentially Fibonacci-like), logistics ad delayed logistics.

They will need some work to use, however, as the algebra notation will probably need to be changed to match our curriculum and I would make the spreadsheet instructions less exact so the students need to think some about how to model. I’ve only looked at one unit so the scaffolding on Excel may decrease over time.

Letters to Stabenow and Peters

Note: I emailed these because these are allies and I wanted to make it easier on their staff than on Trump’s or Trott’s. (Although I expect Trump may not even have his staff read these).

Dear Senator Stabenow:

I would like to thank you for your support of progressive issues over the year. I know with the current make up of the Congress, and the current occupant of the White House you will have to work very hard to preserve that progress.

I write about a more fundamental issue. In a letter to Mr. Trump I spelled out a few things that have me concerned about the health of our governing system. I indicated that:

  • A president must report truthfully to the press. A president must not attack the press for doing their essential job. Tyrants and autocrats casually lie to the press. People hiding their true intentions lie to the press.
  • A president must respect the first amendment. A president must not single out people, or groups of people based on their ethnicity, or religion. A president must respect the rights of people to peaceably assemble.
  • A president president must release tax returns and other documents so that the people can be reassured that the president’s decisions are based on his opinion of what is best for the people and not on what is best for the president.

I’m sure my list of bullets could be extended. I further indicated to Mr. Trump that if he continues to attack the press, to call for registries of citizens based on their religion, to call for further restriction on voting, to try to roll back civil rights, or to try to restrict access to health care, then he will surely hear from me and see me.

I vote, I write letters, I mobilize others, I support financially candidates who share my views, and I will join protests to preserve the Republic and to ensure equal opportunity for its citizens. I hope and expect I can count on the support of my senators in this endeavor.

Yours truly,

Jeff Morford

Polleverywhere Revisited


I tried Polleverywhere again after a couple years away from it. Polleverywhere is a system that allows you to poll students using texts, Twitter, web browsers, an app or a combination of these. It has made some big improvements for math. One big limitation, unfortunately is compatibility with so I cannot show you live examples of the polls I made. I’ll try to describe them.

Open Ended Poll
Open Ended Poll

One big plus is that you can put images in answer choices now. So, math expressions and equations can go in multiple choice answers. You cannot put them in the questions so that is only sometimes helpful. You can also just put an image up as the question and have regions of the image defined for the answers. The drawback to this is that students then must have a smartphone to vote using the browser or an app. You have a lot of control over the voting. For instance I plan to use this for a coin tossing experiment to generate a histogram. I’ll allow each group to send in exactly 5 responses to how many heads did you get when you tossed 10 coins.

Image Poll
Image Poll

There are a couple of serious limitations. I used to get around the lack of images in questions by posting both the question and the poll to Power Point. The questions could just refer to the image. This now requires a plug-in. Our College maintains a policy of protecting the equipment over using the equipment for education so we cannot install software ourselves. To use this I’d have to have IT staff install the plug-in on my PC and all the classroom PC’s I use. Alternately I could use a laptop and plug into the data projector (even though I think we are also not supposed to mess with those wires either.)

The other is the ad stating that this is a free account.  I certainly don’t object to any business model that Polleverywhere wants to use. The small ad that shows in Chrome is certainly reasonable. However, in Internet Explorer the free account announcement is huge and in the center of the screen. It makes the free product unusable in the classroom if you only have access to that browser.

Experimenting with Using a Background Image
Experimenting with Using a Background Image

Instructors may pay $349 for a semester of polleverywhere to get extra features and the ad removed, or may pass the cost on to students at $14 each. Both of these are a great alternative to forcing students to buy clickers. Both are great improvements over their pricing a few years ago. However, alternate methods of informal assessment are (essentially) free. Unless I decide to build my class around this kind of assessment I think I will stick with the free version and other methods of informal assessment. If I still taught sections of 200 like I did early in my career I might make a different choice.