Image from:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas - WCYDWT

During this festive season we all get the opportunity to listen to Christmas carols. The 12 Day of Christmas was playing in a store today.

Here is version of it that you can listen to.

My mathematical brain kicked in and WCYDWT came to mind. The following are questions I came up with.

1. How many presents would a person receive over the entire 12 days of Christmas?

2. Could you write an equation or formula to predict the total number of presents received on any given day?

If you can think of any other ideas for using this song please share them in the comments section.

If you really want to see some cool math behind the 12 Days of Christmas, click here

Pictures of Lunar Eclipse

Even with a partially broken tripod I managed to get some decent pictures of the lunar eclipse tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chrome OS Netbook is a Throw Back to Mainframes

I was in high school back in the early 80s when personal computers first came out. I knew what a mainframe was and even got to tour the Credit Union Central facility in Regina and see their mainframe set up. The computers hooked to the mainframe were called "dummy" terminals. The terminal did not do much but allow you to enter commands and send them to the mainframe. All of software and data resided on the mainframe.

I have been reflecting on the Google Chrome OS netbook that was announced recently. It runs apps and is more powerful than a dummy terminal but operates on the same principle as a mainframe. All of your data is stored on a server in the clouds. Very much like in the days of the mainframe.

Google seems to have gone back in time and taken the mainframe idea and applied it to todays computers. Google has figured out that what most people want is a cheap computer that allows them to surf the net and access their data anywhere and anytime. How do you achieve this model? Store everything on a server and only access what you need when you want it.

I have to chuckle that we have come full circle. The personal computer allowed us to unchain ourselves from the mainframe mentality. However, it appears that the most cost effective way of computing is the centralized server with a bunch of "dummy" terminals connected to it.

How do you assess "Explaining"?

The Math dept. spent some of our time today, during our "snow day", writing student friendly outcomes for our Math 20-1 course. One of the things we immediately noticed is that MANY of the outcomes ask students to "explain" Mathematical processes.

I experimented with having students videotape explanations of factoring quadratic equations. This worked OK. However, was a bit time consuming.

We discussed having students answer "explain" outcomes on the summative exam. But, I pointed out that we want to know BEFORE the summative assessment if they can explain or not.

Any suggestions of how else we can get students to explain a mathematical process?

Also, I developed a rubric to assess the explanation of the factoring of a quadratic equation. The rubric seems to work well. I gave the students the rubric after I watched their videos BUT they did not get to re-watch their video to compare it to the rubric. This is a downfall.

I DO NOT feel we need to assign a grade to the explain outcomes. I feel that the rubric is more beneficial. However, we have to document the assessment. I guess we can keep a copy of the rubric in our "Marks book" and record the level they achieved on the rubric in the "Mark book" then we have evidence to show parents.

Any feedback on this would be appreciated.