Life and Musings of Ed

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Do Hard Things

In Christian Education, Life and living on 31 March 09 at 10:36 am
do_hard_things_study_guideDo Hard Things - The Rebelution

Do Hard Things - The Rebelution

I have been using this text as the basis for our High School Sunday School Class at All Saint’s Anglican Church in Newport/Morehead City, NC. The ideas resonant with me and I have plans to offer a modified version to our adults. Beware the Myth of Adolescence!



Genius board

In Ed Does Math on 11 March 09 at 10:08 am

Many brave Pi-Enthusiasts  successfully completed the Pi-Day Challenge!  Will you be one of them?

Pi-Day Challenge

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Pi Day Pie

Pi Day Pie

Plan Ahead for Pi Day!

In Ed Does Math on 11 March 09 at 9:48 am
Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi Day

For true enthusiats, celebrate irrationally on March 14th,   26 seconds after 1:59 [the pi second] !

Here are the first 314 digits …just  in case you wanted to memorize a few for recitation on Pi Day.

3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433

83279 50288 41971 69399 37510

58209 74944 59230 78164 06286

20899 86280 34825 34211 70679

82148 08651 32823 06647 09384

46095 50582 23172 53594 08128

48111 74502 84102 70193 85211

05559 64462 29489 54930 38196

44288 10975 66593 34461 28475

64823 37867 83165 27120 19091

45648 56692 34603 48610 45432

66482 13393 60726 02491 41273

72458 70066 063

Thinking – With Assumption Focus

In Ed Does Math on 5 March 09 at 12:44 pm

I was reading an interesting post on one of my favorite blogs today.  Two-Pi relates a story about his son’s cub scout meeting.  The leader was talking about “what to do in case of an emergency” and one boy kept escalating the scenario to a more extreme situation; “yeah, but what if…?”.   Two-Pi muses  —

“Hey, he’s thinking like a mathematician!”  He knows the stock answer that is expected, and he’s asking what happens if we change the hypotheses, considering a related problem where the conclusion doesn’t  follow.   HE’S DOING MATH!

— read the full story here:   Thinking Mathematically- by 360

A corollary comes to mind — teaching introductory physics,  I find it useful to frequently remind students to focus on assumptions made when building various “models” .

For example — introductory kinematics equations are generally formed with an assumption of constant acceleration — Newton’s laws are introduced in the context of “point particles” and for velocities << c — torque is introduced on “rigid bodies”, etc.   By stressing the limitations of a particular model,  students often get curious enough to ask the “what if…?” questions.   Of course, it also helps prevent them from misusing/misapplying formulas in situations when these assumptions are violated.

One  common observation as I tutor HS Calculus students,  is that I often find they have not been taught or have not paid attention to the “conditions” which must be met for certain theorems to be valid.  When they are preparing for AP exams, they often flounder because they don’t know the “if” portion of a theorem.   Consider:

Rolle’s Theorem

If   f(x) is continuous over the closed interval  [a, b] ,

if  f(a) = f(b) = 0 ,  and

if  f ‘ (x) exists at least over the open interval  (a, b),


there is at least one value (x_1)  in the open interval (a, b) such that the derivative  @  x_1 = 0.

By stressing the importance of wrestling with the assumptions, students develop a deeper understanding of the theorem/concept/model and are trained to ask relevant “what if…?” questions.

So, my suggestion for Two-Pi, who presents the following challenge:

So the challenge, as we prep for our classes:  find a way to ask questions with obvious answers, that will get students motivated to say “yeah yeah, but what about THIS situation?”, and aim to “lead them” (pushing rope comes to mind) toward the actual course content we want to explore.

Try emphasizing the antecedent (or the  conditions which must be met,  the assumptions,  the premise, …) and I think you will find students more naturally asking deep and relevant “what if…?”  questions.

Somehow I am reminded of the framework for the Ten Commandments — “thou shalt not…” — this sets up the boundaries;  you are free to love and work and serve… just do it within these “boundaries” and all will be well.   Carver uses the concept in his Policy Governance model when recommends writing the executive limitations policies in the negative.  In other words, the executive director is free to work toward fulfilling the mission of the organization within certain prescribed limits, which are clearly written into policy statements.  All the other categories of policy are written in the affirmative, as positive statements.

And now a “shout out” to xkcd

What If...

What If...

Oh, How I Want to Carry a Positive Attitude!

In Christian Education, Life and living on 3 March 09 at 12:00 pm

I have had a difficult time of late.  Personally, some relationships are not where they should be.  I am troubled by the issues and news of the day and this has affected my desire to “blog”.   Generally, I always wish to convey a positive, solutions-oriented message.  The following article just broke my heart.  I was not a supporter of the Education Lottery in North Carolina, when it was debated and finally implemented.  The lottery has already suffered from corruption and scandal.  Now we see that the economic “crisis” is used as an excuse for newly elected Governor Beverly Perdue to redirect monies promised for education.  Shame!

Education lottery funds in jeopardy for local schools

Lenoir County Manager Mike Jarman fears proceeds could be reversed to help battle state’s deficit March 2, 2009 – 9:44 PM Chris Lavender Staff Writer

Lenoir County Schools’ portion of the North Carolina Education Lottery quarterly proceeds were recently reversed back to the state, a county official said Monday. The state’s current deficit crisis has forced officials to scramble for cash where they can find it, including local funds for public school capital construction. Lenoir County Manager Mike Jarman told the commissioners during a Monday meeting the state has diverted $300,000 from its school building capital fund to help decrease the state’s deficit. “The $300,000 is gone,” Jarman said. “(The state) doesn’t intend to pay it back.” Lenoir County Schools wasn’t alone in the recent reversion of lottery quarterly payouts. Jarman said the state decided not to distribute $43 million in lottery proceeds for school districts use this quarter. The state’s education lottery began on April 30, 2006 with instant scratch-off ticket sales at about 5,000 retail locations. While quarterly payouts will continue to be in jeopardy, Jarman said the state could decide March 22 to dip into every county’s education lottery savings account. The county manager said about $1.2 million is distributed from the state’s lottery to Lenoir County annually. Commissioner Chris Humphrey questioned Jarman if the state could legally request that lottery proceeds for Lenoir County be returned. “The people voted for the referendum (on the education lottery),” Humphrey said. “They didn’t expect the state to steal (the money) back.” According to Jarman, Gov. Bev Perdue has the discretion during times of economic crisis to use local funds however she sees fit to meet the state’s financial needs. Jarman said Lenoir County officials were willing to work with officials in Raleigh to try and reduce the deficit. “We want to be part of the solution,” Jarman said. But if the state decides to take more lottery proceeds away from Lenoir County’s account, Jarman said it will have a substantial impact on the county’s ability to pay its debt service for school construction. Jarman will travel to Raleigh on Thursday to meet with state officials to see what they plan to do. This year, the county will pay $5.9 million on the debt services for school construction, the county manager said. “We plan to give (the state) a couple of days to see where they go with this,” Jarman said. “It could have a serious impact.” Lenoir County Schools Superintendent Terry Cline said Monday afternoon he is concerned about the state’s seizure of lottery proceeds in February earmarked for school construction. “These funds are important to us,” Cline said. “They help us pay for the debt on the bond.”

Does it do any good to make comments like, “I told you so!”.   As for me — I get back to work — teaching young men and women about integrity and character and honor; about Christ and His love, and about math, physics and the proper use of God’s gifts.  The Rebelution and the stirrings of a Revolution swirl about me.   God help us!