During this transition between the end of the school year and the start of summer, I will be taking a break from blogging. The break will be either one week or two weeks … I’m not quite sure yet. In any case I will be back in touch in the early-to-mid part of June.
Math in the movies … if there ever was a cool way to explore math, this has to be it. And if you missed my earlier posts on this, check them out here and here.
I was looking through the links to movies with math themes, and a question came up.
On the site showing the movies, the text says that there are “mathematical themes and patterns motivated by math” in the introduction scene for the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, this clip:
I’ve watched the clip a few times, and I have my own ideas as to mathematical themes and patterns.
Whenever I can find a memory trick that helps students get something straight, I use it. Students needs to remember so many things in algebra, so whatever help we can give them is well appreciated.
So recently I stumbled upon a memory trick that helps students tell which of two numbers is greater and which is less.
Let's Reduce Mistakes in Algebra!
You might be thinking: greater and less?! Why would any student have trouble with that? Well, before students hit negative numbers and absolute value, there is generally little trouble. The greater numbers are the larger numbers, the lesser numbers are the smaller numbers. And kids basically know what we mean by larger and smaller whole numbers, when they are dealing with positive numbers and zero.
But when students encounter negative numbers, some things change.
While 10 > 5, – 10 IS not > – 5. Instead: – 10 < – 5.
As if that were not enough, absolute vale comes along and makes things still more confusing, since it takes the value of any number and makes it positive. So now:
abs. value of – 10 > abs. value of – 5
Last days of the school year … kids getting “antsy.”
Harder and harder to keep their attention … so what’s a teacher to do?
Answer: Let the media help us with the media generation.
In my May 16 post, I pointed you to a website that showed how math is used in major motion pictures.
In this post I’d like to focus on one such reference to math in the movies, and show how you can turn it into a fun “End-of-Year” lesson.
The clip of Die Hard below has a great scene in which the Bruce Willis character needs to solve a mathematical puzzle in less than five minutes to avoid getting blown up. It’s an exciting scene, and the math is interesting.
I suggest that you first have your class watch this clip.
After watching it, review the solution with your class.
Here’s a novel idea …
Bring back math memorization … at the Algebra 1 level!
No — I’ not suggesting that we ask students to memorize the times tables from the 12s to the 20s.
Nix on that because it is NOT critical information for algebra students to have. So it would not serve the greater purpose of these students.
But I am suggesting that we require students to memorize a handful of facts that will make
their algebra experience considerably less painful.
Welcome to the second in my series of posts about the “secrets of the calculator.” In my first post on this topic I explained how the 1/x key can make it easier to input certain expressions. If you missed that one, just click here.
Today I’d like to talk about another key that is quite useful, the “EE” key.
What in the world is the EE key, and what does it do?
At first hearing, EE sounds a bit like the call of a monkey.