Projects
days until the end of spring semester.days until Snakes on a Plane.
Boxes unpacked
Math article project
Finished mathematical core of article. Next: Write analytical core of article.
Dummit and Foote, Abstract Algebra
Finished section 1.6 (86 to go)
Silverman and Tate, Rational Points on Elliptic Curves
FInished 2.5 (31 to go)
Conway, Functions of One Complex Variable I
Finished section 7.5 (27 to go)
Munkres, Topology
Finished section 21 (60 to go)
Royden, Real Analysis
Finished section 2.4 (97 to go)
Nonfiction book project
Todo list uptodate
Fiction book project
1443 out of 100,000 projected words written.
Top 100 novels of all time
Reading Ulysses
IMDB top 250 films
Tengoku to jigoku next in queue.
Blogroll
This academic life
Academic CoachConfessions of a Community College Dean
Learning Curves
The Little Professor
My Hiding Place
New Kid on the Hallway
One Bright Star
Planned Obsolescence
Tall, Dark, and Mysterious
Math blogs
Ars MathematicaMathForge
MathPuzzle
Think Again
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Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
08:25Curious demographics
It also occurs to me that it would be a very good thing to replace the standard skip Calc I for a 4 or 5 on the AP test approach with a new postAP Calculus test designed to focus on the material that's not covered on the AP test.
I definitely need to speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies about this. I only have a bit less than two semesters to make my mark on the University's policies.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
13:56Financial aid!
10:06First teaching day of the semester
It looks like a good bunch of grad students in our shared office this year. I had been really concerned that I might develop an antiAsian prejudice last semester, and having a group of Asian TAs who are a bit more gregarious and who will interact with me and other nonAsian grad students looks like it will make a big difference in my perceptions. This is a good thing.
Sure, I have some immediate financial concerns, but in general I'm a much happier person nowadays.
Monday, August 25, 2003
21:06Good news
Saturday, August 23, 2003
20:20 Stand and Deliver Revisited
About a year ago, I was pointed to this article which serves as a sort of coda to Mathew's book. I'm not sure that I agree with all the conclusions reached in the article, but some really key issues are raised.
20:10Something that makes it harder to motivate students
I'm seeing it on the front lines. The quality of the education at the state universities is going down while the cost is going up. I met a girl today who's a high school senior and trying to figure out how to go to college. Her plan is to join the Navy and hope that she doesn't get killed in Iraq. It was very hard for me to restrain myself in that I see how awful her choices are. She's at best an average student. There's not going to be a toptier school spot^{1} for her where financial aid will cover most of the cost of attendence like I had. It'll be quite a bit of distress for her when she gets out, finds out that her GI bill money still won't cover state tuition, and anyway, there's little chance of getting her degree in four years because most of the required classes aren't offered because the budget doesn't allow them to be.
Note 1: I should point out that I don't mean strictly the Ivyleague schools in this characterization, but rather those highly selective private schools who have sufficient endowments to offer sufficient financial aid to completely cover the difference between cost of attendence and the FAFSAdetermined EFC.
Friday, August 22, 2003
02:50Brain Rot
This is the essay which completely turned me around on calculators in the classroom (although my experiences as a TA confirmed me in this metanoia). I think that the most blatant example of how calculators have changed the math curriculum even in my day is the lack of instruction in calculating square roots by hand. This used to be considered an essential skill, but while it was in my high school algebra text, it wasn't taught.
To a certain extent we're undergoing a more dramatic sea change in today's math world where calculators (particularly graphing calculators) make it possible to do mathematical tasks that would have been much more complicated before. A few button presses to calculate a definite integral, etc. I think that we're on the cusp of redefining mathematics education, although the politicians and the demagogues continue to have their say, unfortunately.
The impact of calculators and computers at the high school and college level is simple enough. It's now possible for students in a precalculus class, for example, to tackle questions of complicated definite integrals with minimal effort (although some of the examples of doing this seemed inordinately convoluted).
At the elementary level, things are a lot more complicated. Is it really necessary to do the kinds of arithmetic drills that were common when I was a child? I'm not sure. Theodore and Jerry find value in addition, but to me, long division is where it's at. After all, there's a whole world of mathematical discovery lurking in long division (starting with polynomial division, moving on to the Euclidean algorithim and thence to a whole world of number theory and discrete mathematics to touch just the tip of the iceberg). On the flip side, this is not the level of mathematical exploration that will be demanded of most of our students. As I've found, an inability to multiply 18 by 8 without a calculator does not necessarily imply that a student will not be able to master algebra (or at least grasp the concepts well enough to average 70% or above on tests and quizzes).
There's another side of this which is another important question to address: The use of technology in the classroom can open a divide between those who have the resources to obtain the technology and those who don't. Consider, for example, that while a basic supermarket calculator will run only $510, with basic statistics available for under $20, graphing calculators come in at $60100 or more. Mathematica for students is $140, and the compute that can run it will be at least $500. That's an awful big bite if you're trying to raise a family on minimum wage.
I'd love to hear comments from any readers of this blog (or acknowledgment of the existence of any readers of this blog).
01:58Financial worries
On the other hand, I love TAing, and I could really use the $800/month that they offer. The one current bright spot was that I was offered a tuition and fee waiver for this semester so that's $2750 less that I need to come up with, although the bill that will come in October will still be for about $750. Not to mention that I still need to pay my summer bill somehow today. The loan application won't be completed until the end of September at the soonest, and the initial loan amount they're offering won't cover my living expenses at all. I've got to submit more paperwork which will take another 812 weeks and then they'll let me have more money. Maybe. At least if that comes through the spring, when I'm student teaching, will be a bit more rewarding.
My morning class is abstract algebra. I loved the 300level version of this class, and I'm looking forward to the 500level class. I picked up the text over the summer and worked through about half the problems from section 1.1 earlier in the month, but other pressing concerns have sidetracked me from finishing the book (said with a sly grin). I've not visited the book store to find out the bad news about my other classes yet.