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Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra AMATYC


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Have you ever dreamed of teaching a pre-calculus level course where the algebraic manipulation is de-emphasized and the emphasis is shifted to conceptual understanding and practical skills that directly apply to transfer classes? Learn how your wishes can come true by making simple changes around curriculum, pedagogy, and technology.

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Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra AMATYC

  1. 1. Taking the Algebra out of College Algebra Maria Andersen Westminster College CEO, Coursetune Twitter: @busynessgirl
  2. 2. Partial Fraction Expansion Conic Sections Polynomial Long Division Log Product and Sum Rules Integration by Trig Substitution Factoring, Factoring, and more Factoring Rational Expression and Equation Hell
  3. 3. Drowning in problems like this:
  4. 4. 1878 Algebra text problems
  5. 5. Topics of Algebra may actually be the only similarity between 1878 and 2009.
  6. 6. In 2009 we could not yet see what would transform modern life (again).
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  11. 11. The word problems don’t even make sense anymore.
  12. 12. Data is at our fingertips, we would never calculate this stuff anymore.
  13. 13. Into which socket could you place an Intel Core i5? A. Socket LGA 775 B. Socket LGA 1155 C. Socket C D. Socket AM3+
  14. 14. Why do we still teach this stuff?
  15. 15. Find the zeros by factoring:
  16. 16. Step 1: What are the goals of the curriculum? What are the modern-day goals or competencies for this course? What is it we ACTUALLY want students prepared to do?
  17. 17. Competency: Graphs and Relationships Interpret the key features of graphs and relate graphs to the mathematics of their equations to wisely use math in other contexts. Competency: Create Models from Data Create an appropriate mathematical model for a set of data to make interpolations and extrapolations.
  18. 18. A decent competency or course learning objective (CLO) should have several properties:  Relevance to program or workplace  Longevity: Should not change as technologies and learning resources change  Construction: Action / Object / Purpose  Measurable
  19. 19. Competency: Technology Use a TI graphing calculator. Use a graphing calculator. Use a graphing calculator to enhance mathematical interpretation in the real-world. Apply technology to enhance mathematical interpretation in the real-world.
  20. 20. Competency: Technology and Reasonability Apply technology to enhance mathematical interpretation and determine reasonability of solutions since real-world problems rarely involve integers.
  21. 21. Step 2: Eliminate curriculum bloat Given that we now live in a world where 94% of the age 18-29 population carries a SmartPhone and can search for information any time they want, what changes?
  22. 22. E = Existence S = Supported I = Independent L = Lifelong
  23. 23. E = Existence S = Supported I = Independent L = Lifelong
  24. 24. Step 3: Utilize the SmartPhone
  25. 25. Step 3: Utilize the SmartPhone
  26. 26. What if they don’t have a SmartPhone? Required Technology: You must have either a laptop, smartphone, or tablet in class every day to use the Desmos Graphing app. If using a laptop, you’ll need to download the Chrome Desmos Testing app. Put the tech requirement in the syllabus.
  27. 27. Tips for allowing SmartPhone Use in Class Phone and WiFi must be off during class. (airplane mode with WiFi off) If a 2-hour class, provide a 5-minute break where you specifically state this is time they can check their phones. Provide a robust formula sheet.
  28. 28. Step 4: Upgrade the Curriculum Find modern examples and reserve class time for this. You have to develop a daily reading routine (NY Times, Statista, Twitter, Economist) First 5-10 min of class – graphs in the news
  29. 29. Subscribe to the Statista Chart of the Day (free) You have to develop a daily reading routine (NY Times, Statista, Twitter, Economist)
  30. 30. Contemporary Algebra Applications algebra-applications/
  31. 31. Step 5: Abandon Note-Taking for Problem Solving Most of class time (90%) is students solving scaffolded problems and challenges. We use lap whiteboards for collaboration.
  32. 32. Markerboard People (double sided, 11x17 graphing grid)
  33. 33. Making more effective use of class time I provide a set of class notes on Canvas after each class.
  34. 34. IPEVO Ziggi-HD HD USB Document Camera ( iScanner App (iPhone or Android) CamScanner (free, has watermark)
  35. 35. Step 6: Fair Assessment Not all assessment must be tests. Assess Supported skills another way. Write tests while looking at the list of learning objectives (don’t rely on memory). Final Exams should focus on Lifetime Skills.
  36. 36. To modernize College Algebra 1. What should the goals actually be? 2. Eliminate curriculum bloat 3. Embrace the SmartPhone (or other modern technologies) 4. Upgrade the curriculum with modern and timely examples 5. Abandon Note-taking for Problem Solving 6. Fair Assessment