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Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Setting Math Tests, I Learned From My Five-Year-Old Self

Every semester, I get complaints from students who take issue with my testing style, which requires them to avail themselves of cognitive functions more complex than those of memorization and pattern-matching. The standard complaint is a variation of “some of the questions on the test are different from the ones you gave on the homework, and that’s not fair.” I…

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Teaching binary math to third-graders

A few weeks ago, TangoMan from Gene Expression sent me this fascinating description of a teacher’s use of the Socratic method to teach binary math to schoolchildren. It’s too interesting to excerpt; read the whole thing. I don’t teach math to little kids very often, but I’ll have to keep this in mind if I ever get back into math mentoring. One thing that…

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My kingdom for intelligent activism

I’ve mentioned before briefly that back in the Spring of ‘03, the TA union at my grad school went on strike. It was a fascinating experience, and I learned more about labour law in that one month than I learned about algebraic stacks during that entire year, which isn’t to say much, but it actually was. I stand by a…

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Sometimes grading fifty tests isn’t so bad

On the stats test, I gave a question about a company whose owner takes home a million dollars per year, and whose 60 employees each make $40 000 or less. I asked my students which of the measures of centre – mean, median, or mode – best described how much money the people working at the company were making. From…

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Because there aren’t enough stupid arguments regarding same-sex marriage

A few months ago, when George W. Bush won a historic victory with a campaign that called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage for all eternity, progressively-minded Americans gazed longingly at the 49th parallel, and many contemplated moving here. Little did they anticipate that Canada’s inferiority complex would drive our Parliament to try to outdo our neighbours on this…

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Precalculus And The Case Of The Missing Children

Absenteeism is a tricky problem to deal with, because by its very nature, lecturing your students about how bad it is invariably reaches the wrong audience. It’s only a problem in my precalc class, partly because precalculus is an evening class; however, attendance in precalculus last semester was crap as well, when I taught it at a perfectly reasonable time…

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