March 19, 2006
I decided to post a few more mathematics websites that I use from time to time.
I like mathwords for looking up mathematical terms and definitions.
The Understanding Mathematics website was developed at the University of Utah to offer support to undergraduate mathematics students. Its contents are relevant to mathematics learners at many levels.
This website discusses the story of the number zero, in four dimensions.
The John Handley High School mathematics website has many interesting resources from puzzles, to quotes to lesson plans.
The Vocational Information Center offers a link to many mathematics sites.
March 16, 2006
Attended a talk given by John Bransford today. He is currently at the University of Washington, having previously spent time at Vanderbilt. He has written several books on the learning sciences. This is an umbrella term which describes how people learn in many settings: museums, k-12 schools, homes, libraries, churches, workplaces etc. Throughout our lives most of our learning is informal. This field is being studied in an interdisciplinary way using neuroscience, psychology, psychology and others. The International Society of the Learning Sciences has more information about this emerging field and they also publish the Journal of the Learning Sciences. More and more universities are adding programs in the learning sciences to their offerings.
Bransford's current project is The LIFE Center. The kinds of questions that Bransford and his colleagues ask are: What do people need to learn about for a high quality life? How do people learn about health care, nutrition, finances, local environmental conditions.
Books that were recommended mentioned during the talk were:
*Fish is Fish by Leo Leonni (A children's picture book that shows how when something is explained to a fish, the fish interprets it in light of what it knows).
Books edited or co-edited by John Bransford
How People Learn
How Students Learn
Preparing Teachers for a Changing World
Books on the changing needs of society in the future
The World is Flat Friedman and Wyman
The Power of Productivity William Lewis
The New Division of Labor Levy and Murnane
A book that describes the intellectual aspects of everyday work:
The Mind at Work by Mike Rose
March 14, 2006
The professor on the abstract algebra course that I am taking, Dr. Matt DeLong (a visiting professor from Taylor University)introduced me to the idea of APOS theory today. It is a theory developed by Dr. Ed. Dubinsky about the stages that undergraduate students progress through as they learn mathematics: Action, Process, Object and Schema. There are several references to the theory on the web. Here are links to some of the better ones:
March 08, 2006
In my car the radio is always tuned to CBC radio 2. It was listening to After Hours on this station that I heard the easy listening/smooth jazz voice of Lori Cullen. She sounds a bit like Norah Jones so if you like Jones you'll probably like Cullen.I went to her website and bought a copy of her CD "Calling for Rain." It has great versions of "I think it's gonna rain today" by Randy Newman, Glibert O'Sullivan's "Alone again naturally" and "Moon River."
March 06, 2006
EU Ambassador Addresses U of M Students
John Bruton former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland addressed students at the University of Michigan today in his new role of European Union Ambassador to Washington. He had some interesting things to say about the EU, the EU in relation to the US and about the Irish language. Here are some excerpts from my notes on his address:
THE EUROPEAN UNION
*European Union (EU) countries have the right to withdraw from the EU unlike US states.
*Unanimity of agreement is required on decisions that relate to crime and security matters within the Union. Qualified majorities are acceptable on other issues. Individual countries have the lead responsibility for matters relating to military involvement and foreign policy whereas the EU has the lead responsibility in matters that relate to cross-border crime, standard setting, commerce and humanitarian issues.
*The EU operates on 7-year budgetary cycles and every country must agree on the budget. The EU cannot borrow and it spends 1% of EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE UNITED STATES
*The EU and the US have 12% of the world's population and 45% of the world's wealth.
*For 1800 of the last 2000 years India and China had relatively greater influence in the world than they have today but India and China were hampered by "European meddling" in their affairs and Europe was boosted by the industrial revolution.
*The level of US investment in the United Kingdom alone is higher than the total level of US investment in Asia.
*A challenge for the US and the EU is how they will deal with an inevitable falling in their percentage of the world's wealth. Will rebalancing take place peacefully or not? The US and the EU need to work together to manage the transition.
*There are huge inequalities in worker pay across the EU. The average worker in Denmark (the highest earners) earns 11 times as much as the average worker in Latvia (the lowest earners). In the US the average worker in Haiwaii (the highest earners) earns twice as much as the average worker in Mississippi (the lowest earners).
*John Bruton disagrees with the Irish requirement where all students must learn what he called a "dead language," the Irish language.
*US companies make 3 times as much profit from investments in Ireland than they do from their investments in China.
*40% of legislation passed in Ireland is build on EU templates and is required by the EU.
March 05, 2006
Went to see Janis Ian in concert tonight at The Ark. This was the third night of the current tour and she was good-humoured and interacted well with the audience. Sang a good mixture of old and new. Here Comes the Night" and "Between the Lines" were great. "At Seventeen" was also great - sounded like it was written only yesterday and sung with the same conviction even though it is more than 30 years old. Only gripe with the evening was that it was way too short (about 1.5 hours) and songs like "Jesse", "In the Winter" and "Stars" didn't feature.
She did tell a good story about being at a folk festival in Ireland when she overheard two women debating in the portaloos whether she would sing her biggest hit or not. Her take off of a northern Irish accent wasn't bad!
March 04, 2006
Attended the first evening of the 19th annual storytelling festival at Ann Arbor's The Ark this evening. I had forgotten how enjoyable a good story can be and that stories are not just for children. Susan Strauss used her body and her voice to tell stories about creation and about a coyote who believed that it was more powerful than the surrounding grasses. With regard to complaints that she has on occasion received about the 'farting coyote' story and how children might respond to it she commented that "If you dam the river the waters get muddied."
Alice McGill closed the evening by reminding the audience that the human voice is the most powerful instrument. On a few occasions during the evening she got the audience to sing reminding us of proverbs from Zimbabwe that claim that if you can talk you can sing and if you can walk you can dance. She opened her presentation by telling us that her story was herself and convinced us of that by telling lively and engaging stories of her homesickness in college and her becoming a teacher and about Brer Rabbit's attempt to marry the king's daughter.
The evening reminded me of what a powerful medium storytelling can be for educating and how knowledge of generations have been passed on by generations (such as McGill's story of how Africans used to be able to fly - lore which could not, in the past, be shared with bakras). The underlying human element of storytelling was highlighted by Alice McGill when early in her session she asked for the house lights to be put up because when she tells stories she likes to be able to see the whites of her listeners' eyes
March 01, 2006
The World's Fastest Indian (9/10)
Went to see The World's Fastest Indian tonight at Michigan Theater. A really great film, it is based on the true story of Burt Munro who late in life attempted to break some land speed records, one of which stands. Anthony Hopkins is brilliant as usual but so is the kid Aaron Murphy who plays the part of the wide-eyed, believing neighbour.
The film deals with many issues including ageing, living your dreams, bending the rules and being frugal. But the sum of the movie is not about issues it's just about being human and being alive. Part of it is like a road trip across the United States of the 1960's. There are some great quotes such as when the old man tells the young boy that if you don't follow your dreams you might as well be a vegetable. "What vegetable?" "A cabbage." My only gripe with the movie is the soundtrack which is a bit tedious and too close to American Beauty for my liking. Definitely a 9 out of 10 for me.
Now I'm going to read about it on http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412080/