Life and Musings of Ed

Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Mirrors

In Ed Does Math on 26 January 09 at 11:05 am

I loved this post at Division By Zero and recommend it here for all my math and physics students. Dave Richeson answers the question: “Why do mirrors reverse right and left but not up and down?”

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Right Handed Coordinate System

Right Handed Coordinate System

Home Schooling — Mathematics

In Ed Does Math, Math Tutor on 23 January 09 at 2:29 pm

Now into my second “school” year teaching mathematics to a young man who is home-schooled, it seemed that I might be able to post some relevant perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of our particular educational situation.

Our Learning Space -- Comfortable, Well-Lit Desk -- With A View

Our Learning Space -- Comfortable, Well-Lit Desk -- With A View

The View

The View

When I was first enlisted to work with Ian on Algebra I, he was already committed to using Saxon materials. I had familiarity with the Saxon method, which has a pedagogical bent toward skill building through continuous review and incremental concept building. Each lesson adds a “nugget” of new material, has a few practice problems, and then a homework set which consists of 30 problems. Perhaps 4-6 of the problems are on the new “nugget” and the rest are review problems. It is imperative for the instructor (in this case me 😉 ) to tie the concepts together during a brief time of direct instruction and to then work alongside the student as they practice solving problems. Feedback and homework corrections are vital to catching and eliminating conceptual errors or misunderstandings, because, misunderstandings can potentially be compounded until review problems are no longer just review, but a large and daunting set, full of menacing confusion. With this last point in mind, an important procedural change was made this school year. I now grade all the homework and provide Ian with a graph of the scores, updated weekly. This simple but important modification over last year, has markedly reduced the number of “bad” homework papers. This was one of the big issues from last year, fighting to maintain an acceptable level of quality and constancy with Ian’s work. One lesson, Ian might get 90% correct and the next it would be <50%. This should not happen with the Saxon method — and is not happening anywhere near as much now that Ian can see and is confronted with actual graphical data about his performance on homework.

In future posts, I’ll discuss the role of faith and religion, the relationship which has developed and my use of supplemental materials to bolster the geometry content in a Saxon Algebra I, Algebra II sequence.

Just thinking “out loud” here 😉 Peace!

LaTeX generates visits

In LaTeX on 23 January 09 at 9:40 am

Hello World!

It seems that this is the standard phrase used by folks who are testing html code or simple functionality of LaTeX packages, etc.   So, it seems appropriate to this short post.  I am finding the whole “blog” experience rather interesting.  It does help to keep me motivated and provides a review tool to check my level of focus or monitor my broad and wavering interests.  I have also been surprised to find that the greatest interest, based on traffic to this blog, has been about LaTeX.  With this in mind, I’ll post more about my LaTeX experience to test the real interest level out “there”.

A caveat — I consider myself to be a complete novice and still struggle — anyone who is really proficient will likely cringe at my coding 😉   Since, I think it is a worthwhile effort and strangely satisfying…I’ll throw some examples and commentary out soon.

To all LaTeX novices — let’s have some fun.

TeX Lion

TeX Lion

Christmas Flashback

In Life and living, Music on 22 January 09 at 4:25 pm

So here is a Christmas flashback of the new and somewhat hastily put together band whose members all work at Duke Marine Lab.  The recent snow in Beaufort, NC reminded me that I had not posted anything about the music in my life. Fact is, I love music and have played bass for fun and occasional cash since junior high school.  Filling in for a band that “fell through”,  The Lab Five Band was formed, and had this great opportunity to celebrate the holiday’s with colleagues and friends from Duke Marine Lab.

Note:  In order to see the whole video, you will need to view this post in it’s own page by clicking on the title [Christmas Flashback — in red at the top]

This year I am hoping to ramp up my time playing and enjoying music.  Look for posts about — Blind Hog, All Saint’s Praise Band, Crystal Coast Community Choir, The Southernairs, Tapestry and, of course, The Lab Five Band !

Snow in NC

In Life and living on 22 January 09 at 3:01 pm

For all my family and friends:  You know we get very little snow in Eastern North Carolina and when we do, it is a big deal.  Most “things” generally come to a stand still with just a weatherman’s mention of snow or ice;  school’s close, events are canceled, stores are stripped of milk and bread, etc.   Perhaps this is because we are not very well prepared in terms of snow removal equipment and large stockpiles of salt and dirt to spread on our roads, or perhaps it is because the rare snow fall blankets and transforms our normal view of the world.  I prefer to focus on the latter.  The neighborhood suddenly looks pure and clean and Holy.

Home Snow 21Jan09

Home Snow 21Jan09

It is worthwhile to pause occasionally just to appreciate the beauty which surrounds us.  This rare blanket of snow in Morehead City, provided an opportunity for my family to pause and enjoy the freshness, the brisk, refreshing air of this moment  — before we all got cold and ran inside to sit by the fire in the fireplace.

Morehead City Snow

Morehead City Snow