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The Virtual Mentor 2009-2010

May, 2010

Summer and the end of the school year are fast approaching.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to send your students home with some resources so they are able to retain what they have learned this school year?  There are many sites out there that your students can easily log onto and use over the summer.

One is the BBC's Skillswise site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/numbers that has four main areas.  You can pick whole numbers; measures, shape and space; fractions, decimals and percentages; or handling data.  Each of these areas has numerous subpages that cover different topics.  Each subpage has printable fact sheets, online quizzes at different levels and printable worksheets.  Many of them also have online games.

Your students will love playing the games.  If they can't remember something they can simply open one of the fact sheets in a separate window.

The quizzes all have various levels of difficulty.  At the end of the 10 questions, the student is given the correct answers with explanations.

There is also a page for "Tutors" that gives teachers and parents information and links to other resources covering the same topics.  The beginning of each of these tutor pages explains how the topic is alined to the curriculum standards in the British Isles -- this is a BBC site.

Have a wonderful relaxing summer.  I'll be back in Sept.

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University

Late April, 2010

ThinkFinity is a partnership formed by the Verizon Foundation with content partners and affiliates.  It may sound vaguely familiar because ThinkFinity and NCTM are partners for Calculation Nation.  The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon. According to ThinkFinity's website it "invests in initiatives that leverage innovative technology and interactive learning to increase teacher effectiveness and advance student achievement."  Since I was impressed by Calculation Nation, I decided to see what ThinkFinity had to offer at its own website at http://www.thinkfinity.org.

The Verizon Foundation has brought together lots of content links and categorized them.  There are lesson plans, interactive games, activities, sites for children and parents, after school ideas and a plethora of other information for teachers, parents, and interested parties.  ThinkFinity is just introducing a new redesigned site.  You are able to search by resource type, grade level and subject area for ideas and content for your classroom.  You can join the Community for even more information and online discussion.

Have fun exploring and using ThinkFinity's site and activities.

Have a great time at the Spring Conference in Duluth.  I know you will find a lot of wonderful ideas there, too.

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University

April, 2010

Happy April -- Math Awareness Month and the Annual MCTM Spring Conference and CONNECT session!  It is a month full of exciting possibilities for you and your students.

Every April is designated Math Awareness Month by the Mathematical Association of America.  This year's theme is Math and Sports.  The MAA web site has links to activities that are schools are participating in.  Check out some of them to get ideas for your class at http://www.mathaware.org/mam/2010 and start celebrating Math Awareness Month.

The Annual Spring Conference is in Duluth on April 30 and May 1 with the CONNECT session the night before (April 29) at the DECC.  It's not too late to register for either the CONNECT session or for the conference.  The CONNECT session is a great way to learn how to navigate your way around the conference making sure that you get in on the talks and workshops that you are most interested in.  It is also a great way to network with others who are currently beginning teachers or who are still working towards their degrees.  A light dinner will be served and there will be lots of door prizes and give aways.  All of this is free.  What a great opportunity whether you are working on your degree or teaching!  You can RSVP to me if you plan to attend the CONNECT session.  Please include your name, school (either where you are attending or where you are teaching), and your level of interest.  We ask mainly so we can plan to make sure that we have a program that will fit everyone's needs, and (of course) enough food for all.

To learn more about the conference and registration details go to the Spring Conference page.

Happy Math Awareness Month,

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University

Late March, 2010

Have you checked out Calculation Nation, NCTM's newest web offering?  If not, go to http://calculationnation.nctm.org where you will find lots to help keep your students' attention during these spring days.

Calculation Nation currently has eight math strategy games that give your students lots of skills practice.  There are more games in the works.  You can join or use the guest pass to play them.  If you use the guest pass, you will be playing against yourself or the computer.  If you join, you can challenge other members  the U.S. and Canada.  Membership is free.  Log on and check them out.  But you better do so when you have some extra time, because you'll find yourself having a great time playing the games.  They are fun.

Happy Spring,

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University

March, 2010

It's March!  And it's beautiful and sunny out!  You know what that means -- Pi Day is just around the corner.  Don't worry, there is still time to plan a great Pi Day celebration.

In case you think that Pi Day is just some excuse we mathematicians use to have some fun, you need to know that Congress officially recognized March 14 (3.14) as Pi Day last year.  You can read all about it and find links to the full text of the resolution and House debate at http://www.teachpi.org .  You'll also find ideas for activities, learning and entertainment.  There are songs you can play for your students or teach to your students for a sing-a-long.  There are quotes, stories, memory records and links to other great Pi Day sites.  One I have bookmarked and plan to use at our celebration will search the first 200,000,000 digits of pi looking for your phone number.  I plan to give prizes to those whose phone numbers are found closest to the front.  I tried it using my cell, office and home phones.  None of those 10-digit sequences were found in the first 200,000,000 digits of pi but all of my 7-digit phone number sequences were found.

You'll find very interesting experiment at http://www.avoision.com/experiments/pi10k/index.html .  The experiment attempts to convert the first 10,000 digits of pi into a musical sequence based on the notes you assign to the digits 0 through 9.  I found some very pleasing (and some not so pleasing) results.  I imagine some of your more musically inclined students will come up with some great ideas for this experiment.

Have fun at your Pi Day celebration!

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University

February, 2010

Mark your calendars.  Wednesday, March 3, is the date for the World Math Day competition.  I wrote about this last year but too late for you to enter your students.  This year there is plenty of time for you to register both your students and yourself.  There is a new category this year for teachers, parents, and the media.

Go to http://www.worldmathsday.com/2010/Default.aspx? to read all about it and to see a couple of videos promoting it.  This competition is free and open to ages 5 - 18.

Last year a record was set for the World Math Day Competition.  There were 1,952,879 students from 38.058 schools in 204 countries who answered 452,681,681 math questions correctly while playing the games.  (I knew you'd love reading those numbers!)  The competition consists of live 60-second games (played via computer or iphone) of mental mathematics.  Students can play up to 500 games during the 24 hour period and earn points for their correct answers.  Prizes are awarded to the top students in each age category (5 - 8, 9 - 13, and 14 - 18 years.)  There is a Hall of Fame list of the top students on the website.  It is impressive to see all of the countries and schools they represent and the high scores they achieved.  What a great and fun way to promote math in your classroom.

Good luck to all of you competing on World Math Day.

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University


January, 2010

Over the course of their school years, our students often go on field trips to various museums.  I would wager that few of them (or us) have ever gone on a trip to a math museum.  It is such an easy thing to do, too.  All you have to do is log on to your favorite ISP and you can visit several math museums.  Like their concrete and stone counterparts, some of these museums are interactive, some are designed to tell you about objects, and some do both.

At http://www.counton.org/museum/outside.html you'll find yourself outside of the Matrix, a  math museum.  Click on the front door to enter.  Inside, like any other museum there are several floors of galleries.  Click on the door of a gallery to enter it or click on the door of the stairs to go up or down.  Inside the galleries you will find a collection of objects that either are mathematical in nature or use mathematics in their purposes.  Some of these objects have interactive activities to go along with them.  There are also galleries of artwork showing these objects being used in their historical era.

The math museum  at http://mathsite.math.berkeley.edu has an introduction showing examples of Mathematics, Pure Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.  After the intro, you are given a list of the current "exhibits".  The exhibits are interactive problems and puzzles that lead you to a deeper understanding of a mathematical theorem.  If you are interested in the theorem, it will lead you to the corollaries.  

The last math museum that I want to mention is is the process of becoming a America's only concrete and stone Museum of Mathematics.  It is now a traveling exhibit that is very interactive and looks like a great deal of fun.  It is the Math Midway.  You can read all about the activities and see pictures, as well as learn how to sponsor the exhibit at http://www.mathmidway.org where you will also find a link to the puzzles and problems that your students can work on.  The answers are there, too.

Have fun with your math students' visits to a math museum.

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University


December, 2009

With the snow, it is really beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  I'm sure your students, and maybe you, are looking forward to the holiday break.

At times like these it is hard to keep everyone's attention on the tasks at hand.  Often, doing something in a different manner allows you to keep your students' attention while helping them to learn their mathematics, even if they don't realize it.  The University of Cambridge and their team of qualified teachers publish an online magazine every month with challenging and engaging activities for your classroom.  You can find this month's issue at http://nrich.maths.org and have access to their archive of magazines going back to Nov. 1996.  For the last 13 years, they have published issues on many different themes.

According to their website,  "This month, many of our problems focus on properties of number and calculating. 'Playing' with the mathematics of a situation is often a good way to get into a problem and several resources this month lend themselves to that approach."  Among other things, this month there is an Advent Calendar filled with 24 pictorial problems.  Even if you can't mention Advent or Christmas in your school, these problems will spark your students' imagination and thinking.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year's.  I'll be back in 2010.

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University


Late October, 2009

It is hard to believe that the NCTM Regional Conference in Minneapolis is next week already.  If you haven't registered, there is still time to do so.  It is an event that you don't want to miss.  There are so many sessions, so many exhibitors, and so many people to meet, you'll be so glad that you participated.

Be sure to count on attending the CONNECT Session on Thursday from 5:00 - 6:15 PM in room L100 I-J in the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Soft drinks and snacks will be served as you meet and greet new and experienced teachers and learn what to look for and do at the conference.  Of course, there will be those all important door prizes -- but you can't win one if you aren't there.

There is a New and Preservice Teachers Workshop and a Program Overview Session that you'll be interested in.  You can learn more at the NCTM Conference website at http://www.nctm.org/conferences/content.aspx?id=22369#New%20Teacher%20Workshop .  Be sure to check it out.

I've saved the best bit of news for last.  Stop by MCTM's booth Exhibit Hall to get an MCTM member ribbon to wear proudly on your name badge.  Not a member?  No problem, you can join while you are there.  Need to renew?  Take advantage of the 2 for 1 deal -- 2 years of membership for the price of 1 year.  Plus, you will get a free MCTM t-shirt if you are among the first to join or renew.  (The t-shirt offer is good while the supply lasts.)

Next week should be a very productive one for all of us who attend the Regional conference. See you there,

Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University


October, 2009

I have a new opportunity to tell you about and a correction to make to my last Virtual Mentor posting.

First the correction.  I told you the wrong date for the deadline for the discount earlybird registration for the NCTM Regional conference in Nov.  The correct date is Oct. 5 (not Oct. 10 as I had originally said.)  I apologize and encourage you to get on the stick and get registered while you can still get the discount!  Go to http://www.nctm.org and click on the "Conference" tab.

The opportunity that I want to tell you about is a new social networking site from MCTM CONNECT.  We intend for it to provide resources and support to preservice and new teachers of mathematics in grades k - 12.  It is by invitation only, but you are all invited to join.  Go to http://mctmconnect.ning.com, click on the "Invite" tab at the top and enter your email address.  Once you are connected, you can check out the resources that are there, start a discussion about a topic you're interested in or add to an onging one.  You know what to do.  Now, you can have lots of help at your fingertips and all of it is sponsored by MCTM CONNECT committee.

Check it out.
Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University


September, 2009

Welcome to the 2009 - 2010 school year.  I know some of you are just starting but others have been at it long enough to be fully back into the routine.

 

One routine thing that will be missing this year is the MCTM's Annual Fall Conference.  Since Minneapolis is hosting the 2009 NCTM Regional Conference from Nov. 4 - 6, MCTM is not having its annual conference.  Hopefully, this will enable and entice everyone to attend the NCTM conference.

If you register by Oct. 10, you will receive the "early-bird" discount on your registration fee.  An even better deal, if you are a student, is to join NCTM and attend the conference for free!  Go to http://www.nctm.org and click on "Minneapolis" in the blue box titled "Attend a Fall Conference" to access the registration information and form, the online planner, and the brochure with the sessions.   The online planner is new and a great idea.  It allows you to search the sessions by grade bands, day or speaker.  You can plan your conference schedule and save it.  Later, you can go in and modify your plan and print it when you are set.

Conferences are always a wonderful way to renew and refresh your teaching.  You'll find sessions for every band level and topic.  You'll find sessions with great ideas for activities and projects to use with your classes.  You'll meet teachers from all over the midwest and beyond who are passionate about teaching mathematics -- just like you.  You'll come away feeling like every minute you spent at the conference was worth it and that you gained far too much knowledge to be able to use everything you learned with your classes.

See you at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Nov.
Ann

Ann Sweeney
MCTM Virtual Math Mentor
St. Catherine University