Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Upcoming information session - Feb 27 @ 5pm

We will be holding an information session at York University on
Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: N620 Ross
Light refreshments will be served
I would welcome any help advertising this event to teachers that might be interested. We have sent letters around to schools in the York region, but are not universally able to get everyone.

Here is a copy of the letter sent to schools.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Summer 2013 - Topics course = Combinatorics and Graph theory

Here is the course description for the topics course that will be offered Summer 2013.

Math 5510 3.0: Topics in Mathematics for Teachers

This course is an introduction to three areas in combinatorics - coding theory, design theory and graph theory. We will introduce various well known objects and problems in each of these areas such as Latin squares and Euler's Officer problem, system of distinct representatives and bipartite matching, Hadamard matrices, Steiner triple system and Kirkman Schoolgirl problem, projective planes, linear codes and Hamming codes. Through studying these objects, we will learn proof techniques and construction methods used in combinatorics. More importantly, we will see the interplay among these three beautiful areas in combinatorics.

Combinatorics - Topics, Techniques, Algorithms
Peter J. Cameron, Cambridge University Press

This course will be offered by Ada Chan from Monday June 24 to Wednesday Aug 7
Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm

Upcoming course offerings - Summer 2013 and Fall/Winter 2013-14

The course assignments are more or less finalized. I am sending out this announcement a little bit later this year because it took much longer than normal to establish precisely what we would be offering in the next year.

Summer 2013 - we will be offering two 3.0 courses. They will be in the evenings twice a week.

Math 5350 3.0: An introduction to Mathematical Modeling - Discrete-Time and Probability
Michel Chen
Monday May 6 to Thursday June 13, 2012
Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm

Math 5510 3.0: Topics in Mathematics - Graph Theory
Ada Chan
Monday June 24 to Wednesday Aug 7
Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm

Fall/Winter 2013-14

Math 5020 6.0: Fundamentals in Mathematics for Teachers
Asia Weiss
Thursday evenings 6-9pm

Fall 2013

Math 5210 3.0: Problem Solving I
Yun Gao
Tuesday evenings 6-9pm

Winter 2013

Math 5350 3.0: An introduction to Mathematical Modeling - Continuous Time and Probability
Neal Madras
Tuesday evenings 6-9pm

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Past courses offered in this program since 2009

One can search through this blog and find (most) of the courses that were offered in this program. There is a posting in this blog which lists the courses that were offered between 2004 and 2009.

Fall-Winter 2012-13:
MATH 5400 6.0: History in Mathematics for Teachers - Gibson
MATH 5410 6.0: Analysis in Mathematics for Teachers - Salisbury

Summer 2012:
MATH 5300 6.0: Computation in Mathematics for Teachers - Zhu

Fall-Winter 2011-12:
MATH 5020 6.0: Fundamentals in Mathematics for Teachers - Zabrocki
MATH 5420 6.0: Algebra for Teachers - Chan

Summer 2011:
MATH 5440 3.0 : Probability for Teachers - Madras
MATH 5430 3.0 : Statistics for Teachers - Chamberlin

Fall-Winter 2010-11:
MATH 5400 6.0: History in Mathematics for Teachers - Kochman
MATH 5450 6.0: Geometry for Teachers - Whiteley

Summer 2010:
MATH 5210 3.0 credits: Problem Solving I - Gao.
MATH 5500 3.0 credits: Topics in Mathematics for Teachers :: topic of Naive Set Theory - Burns.

Fall-Winter 2009-2010:
Math 5020 6.0: Fundamentals in Mathematics for Teachers - Zabrocki

Summer 2009:
Math 5350 3.0: An introduction to Mathematical Modeling - Discrete Time & Probability - Heffernan
Math 5360 3.0: An introduction to Mathematical Modeling - Continuous Time & Probability - Heffernan

Currently missing from this list are the education cross-listed courses. I find that the ones that I posted to this blog were later changed so I don't know if I can reliably add them to the list. I will try to update this when I find a more reliable source of information. I'm currently working on what will be offered Summer 2013 and then Fall-Winter 2013-14.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sad News

I just received the following message from Walter Whiteley:

Our colleague in Mathematics Education, Professor Margaret Sinclair, passed away earlier today, at home surrounded by her family. Margaret Sinclair is survived by her husband, her five children, and a number of grandchildren. There will be an obituary in the Toronto Star tomorrow - with details on the visitation, and funeral.

Margaret graduated from our MA in Mathematics for Teachers program (where I first met her) while a full time high school teacher and then completed a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education at OISE/U of T, while working as a vice-principle in a high school. Margaret then came to York in the Faculty of Education, where she received Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor. In her too brief time at York, Margaret had a major impact on a number of programs - including co-developing the Mathematics for Education program in the Mathematics Department, and also developing closer collaborations at the Graduate Level designed to help the MA in Mathematics for Teachers become a better pathway for others to a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education.

Margaret Sinclair contributed so much, and held the promise of many more contributions to her students, her colleagues, and to York University. She showed great energy, organization and dedication in all the tasks she accepted - ad the results were impressive.

I spoke with Margaret briefly on Saturday on the phone - just before flying to Europe for a workshop.
Margaret Sinclair will be truly missed by all who knew her.

Walter Whiteley

Friday, February 10, 2012

Summer 2012

Summer courses have been posted and registered students should have received an announcement from Primrose about the courses offered by the Mathematics & Statistics department.

Summer 2012 - May 7 through Aug 3 - running Tuesdays & Thursdays - 6-9pm - CC 318 - Hongmei Zhu
Math 5300: 6.0 Computation in Mathematics for Teachers

In addition, the faculty of education is running one of the cross listed courses:

Summer 2012 - May 2 through June 27 - running Wednesdays - 5-9pm - YL 234 - Ami Mamolo
Math 5840: 3.0 Learning Environments in Mathematics

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Preferences on the Summer 2012 and FW 2012-13 course offerings

In keeping with the tradition of offering Math 5020 and Math 5400 (the two required courses for this program) alternate years we will offer History of Mathematics for Teachers (MATH 5400) during the Summer 2012 or FW 2012-13. One possibility that has arisen is that it should be offered in Summer 2012 (roughly 12 weeks in May through July, possibly Tuesday/Thursday but finer details such as dates are quite tentative at this point).

I don't want to take this option if this should conflict with people who have already taken Math 5400 and will leave them unable to finish until the end of 2013. If this should apply to you, would you please contact me and let me know what courses you have taken and your plans for finishing the program and I will try to take these into account when we decide what will be offered in the 2012-13 academic year.

FW 2011-12 schedule

We had to switch the days that Fundamentals and Algebra would be offered because of a conflict that I had. Sorry for those of you who signed up for the courses with the days switched.

The actual schedule is now.
Math 5420 6.0 : Algebra for Teachers
Ada Chan
Mondays 6-9pm

Math 5020 6.0 : Fundamentals in Mathematics for Teachers
Mike Zabrocki
Thursdays 6-9pm

In addition, I will be out of town the first two weeks of September and so the Fundamentals course may face a delayed start that we will have to make up. A notice will be sent out to registered students as we get closer to the start day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A talk by John Mighton

I saw this talk by John Mighton a few months back and ended up showing it to my class. So many things that he said about mathematics and mathematics education resonated with my experiences and I thought it was worth sharing.

The Ubiquitous Bell Curve - a presentation recorded at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo.

Testing and learning

As long as I was posting the note on upcoming classes I thought I would report on some research that I found interesting recently. A report in the Journal of Science by researchers at Purdue University finds that testing helps people learn better than a number of other studying techniques.

New York Times
The Huffington Post
The Telegraph

In another report in the journal of Science, researchers at the University of Chicago found that writing about test anxiety before the test helps students to relieve stress and do better on the test.

University of Chicago press
Toronto Star
Globe and Mail

Summer and Fall courses

Summer courses for the M.A. for Teachers program offered by the mathematics department.

It was only recently that the course Math 5430 6.0 was split into two courses, one on probability and the other on statistics. We will be offering them both this summer with two different instructors.

Math 5440 3.0 : Probability for Teachers
Neal Madras
Monday and Thursday 6-9pm May 2-June 9

Math 5430 3.0 : Statistics for Teachers
Steven Chamberlin
Tuesday and Thursday 6-9pm July 5 - Aug 4

Fall classes:

Math 5020 6.0 : Fundamentals in Mathematics for Teachers
Mike Zabrocki
Mondays 6-9pm

Math 5420 6.0 : Algebra for Teachers
Ada Chan
Thursdays 6-9pm

Education is currently announcing:

Fall 2011:
MATH 5920/EDUC 5215 3.0 : Research in Math Ed. with instructor TBA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Singapore and Superman

An article in the New York Times indicates that a number of school districts across the U.S. are adopting a new math curriculum hoping that the latest fad will improve math scores. I don't (completely) mean to dismiss this sort of change by calling it a `fad.' I'm willing to support anything that works. But I worry that school districts make policies by picking and choosing to implement the easy parts of a curriculum and don't make the hard decisions.

A publishing company (SingaporeMath.com) sells books to 1500 schools across the U.S. This article in the New York Times focuses on one distinguishing aspect of the curriculum, that the students start by spending a full week of math lessons just on the numbers 1 and 2. They also mention some other features of the program which uses visual means to represent concepts (e.g. bar graphs and visual aids such as blocks and cards) and problem solving to help students learn in different ways. One great feature of this curriculum is that it seems to be roughly acceptable to both sides of the math wars.

An alarming quote from the article though:
``Mr. Thomas said that about a dozen schools had started and dropped Singapore math, in some cases because teachers themselves lacked a strong math background and adequate training in the program.''

The big buzz in the news these last couple of weeks is a documentary film that appeared at the TIFF this year ``Waiting for Superman.'' I'm anxious to see it but I have heard it is fairly dark and depressing. The movie makes a case that many schools in the U.S. school system are broken and one answer to fixing them is charter schools. One main complaint about the movie that I've heard repeated in several settings is that it seems to imply that charter schools are the magic bullet to American education problems even though they mention that only a portion of charter schools are more successful than their public school counterparts.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Links with High School in Paris

Someone I worked with a few years ago went to Paris to become a high school teacher there. He just wrote me a message today that I thought I would pass along:

> Notre lycée souhaite developper des liens internationaux avec d'autres
> lycées dans le monde pour éventuellement faire des echanges. Mes eleves
> iraient une semaine a Toronto puis les canadiens viendrait apres une semaine
> à Paris.
> Est-ce que tu penses que des high school teachers que tu connais dans ton
> programme à York seraient interessée (de préférence un high school
> downtown)?
> Il faudrait trouver un sujet commun d'étude pour favoriser le travail en
> commun entre les deux classes.

My translation:

Our high school wants to develop international links with other high schools around the world so that we would eventually create an exchange program. My students would spend one week in Toronto and then Canadians would come after for one week in Paris.

Do you think that high school teachers that you know in the York program would be interested (with a preference of a high school downtown)?
We would need to find a common subject of study to facilitate the work between the two classes.

If you or someone you know might be interested, contact me and I can get you in touch with my friend who wrote this message.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

My pet peeve

As this is a blog, I sometimes post comments about things I see in the media as well as announcements about the program. I just wanted to share with you this column that I found in the Detroit Free Press written to an advice columnist 'Dear Leanna':

"Dear Leanna: My seventh-grade daughter, Samantha, hates math. I told her that like most women, I wasn't good in math either, so if she got a D, that was OK. Her father is furious. He says she needs to do well in math to have options. She wants to be a dress designer. They need math?"

When I first read the question I was squirming in horror. Look away! '...like most women...' ???? Where does that EVEN come from? (don't answer that unless you really want to, I know very well where it comes from). Oh, the humanity!

That aside, at least the columnist addressed math attitudes (but seemed to brush aside the blatent sexism) and assumed that a 7th grader who decides that she wants to go into dress design would still have the same belief next week.

But Leanna didn't see the larger context in which math appears in design. She mentions "measuring, estimating, purchasing, budgeting, paying expenses, making a profit." That is only the part that involves arithmetic. But good design requires innovation and developing new technology and techniques. If Samantha were to restrict her skills to only those which do not involve math then she really won't have a deep understanding of how new materials are created and can be manipulated, she will have to rely on others to do that for her. Writing off math limits what you can do with a computer and knowing what a computer can even accomplish (you mean a computer does more than browse the internet?). There are an uncountable number of less tangible effects of being math illiterate.

Fall term classes

Hi All,
Hope you had a good summer. Classes start again this week and I thought I would send out a reminder and welcome back message.

(1) Classes will be 6-9pm as in previous years. We had to fight the registrar so if you saw listings that classes would be 7-10pm please ignore those.

(2) The history and 'fundamentals' course are offered in alternate years and this FW term Stan Kochman will be teaching the history course. Walter Whiteley will be teaching the geometry course and it has not been offered in a while (and will probably not be offered again for another 3 years).

(3) The GPD has asked me to schedule an advising appointment with all current students early in the Fall term. It will be possible to do this over the phone or before the Monday/Thursday classes and the purpose is to make sure that we both know of any courses that you will need to take before graduation (summer 2011 courses will be decided in the Fall and it is helpful if I know of any gaps).


Friday, April 16, 2010

Its OK to register (finally!!!)

Sorry about the day about the ability to sign up for classes. The course should now be listed and you can register. Below is the announcement that Primrose just sent out.

All the course offerings for Summer 2010 are now on the Graduate Studies Lecture Schedule.

Graduate Students,

Please be reminded that the registration deadline is May 3, 2010 (see below). After this deadline, the Faculty of Graduate Studies will be charging a late fee of $200.

All important deadlines for graduate students is available at the Faculty of Graduate Studies webpage: www.yorku.ca/grads
It is your responsibility to be aware of these deadlines


Primrose Miranda
Graduate Program in Mathematics & Statistics

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Updated Announcements on Upcoming Classes

Upcoming summer courses offering by the math department for the M.A. in Mathematics for Teachers program:

May 10-June 16 (Monday and Wednesday) 6-9pm
MATH 5210 3.0 credits: Problem Solving I
by Yun Gao.

June 21-July 28 (Monday and Wednesday) 6-9pm
MATH 5500 3.0 credits: Topics in Mathematics for Teachers
on the topic of Naive Set Theory by Bob Burns.

For the Fall-Winter 2010-2011 terms the Mathematics department will be offering:
MATH 5450 6.0: Geometry for Teachers with Walter Whiteley, Thursdays 6-9pm
MATH 5400 6.0 History of Mathematics with Stan Kochman, Mondays 6-9pm

2010-2011 Important Dates for Graduate Students have now been published on FGS website, http://www.yorku.ca/grads/index.htm

The following announcement was sent towards the end of February and I am re-posting it here. If you did not receive this message, write me with an updated email and I will get you on any missing mailing lists I can.

February 22, 2010

Dear Graduate Students,

Summer Term 2010 registration begins Monday, March 1st, 2010! Be sure to register and enroll in courses early!

As a graduate student, you are required to maintain continuous registration in your program of study; this means you must register in each term (Summer, Fall and Winter) until you complete all the requirements of the degree as either full-time or part-time.

To register, enroll in courses and view the York course website, please go to: http://www.yorku.ca/yorkweb/cs.htm. The registration deadline for Summer Term 2010 is May 3, 2010, if you register beyond this date, a late fee of $200 will be applied to your student account. Therefore it is important that you register for the term early and enroll in courses early (if applicable).

Please note that unless your Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies have approved a change of status, you must remain in the category of registration to which you were admitted. To request a change of status (i.e. leave of absence, change to part-time, extension of time) for the Summer 2010 term, students must make their request through their Graduate Program and complete an Academic Petition Form or a Program Approval Form at least six weeks in advance of the start of the term.

For more information on; Registration; Important Deadlines and Dates; Faculty Regulations; Forms and the FGS directory, please visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies website at: http://www.yorku.ca/grads/.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies wishes you all the best in your academic progress and success in your current program of study, if you have questions, please contact your Graduate Program or the Faculty of Graduate Studies.


Sharon Pereira

Friday, March 12, 2010

Someone else's presentation on the Multiplication Principle

There is a blog Math Notations that covers various topics about math. This weeks topic is titled "Counting, Multiplication Principle, Pigeonhole Principle and Reasoning for Middle Schoolers and Beyond."

I know I have a different perspective on this subject that many of you have been forced to see in Fundamentals, but one of the reasons I like it is that this idea comes up in almost every one of my classes at some point.

No matter what I teach, at some point I find myself arguing that the number of something is the product of two values and the reason is the multiplication principle. In number theory, this simple idea allows us to derive very deep results from drawing a few pictures.

Women over 40 good at math

An article in the Toronto Star from March 10 sites research from Graham Orpwood, a York University emeritus professor, that women over 40 do significantly better than men in college math courses. The article suggests that the difference might be due to better time management skills but it seems that that particular conclusion is more of a guess.

Toronto Star article

The study also says that half as many women study math as men. There was little attempt in the article to explain why this might be the case.

What I don't like about the Toronto Star article is that they then get a bunch of (apparently random) people to comment on the results apparently picking the narrative that the reader might take away from this study.

What is important are the three summary points of the conclusion of the study:

  • Many students identified as being at risk of failing math have a poor grasp of basic functions taught in elementary school, such as fractions, ratios, proportions and percentages, so students should be provided more practice in these.

  • College and school staff should hold a round-table discussion on how to streamline which high school math courses are required for admission to college courses and not have such a disconnect from school to school.

  • Schools should convince parents and students to focus on time management and self-discipline.

It is hard to make such sweeping statements about gender differences over time, but data should be collected to see what the possible causes of large scale failings and shifts of attitudes towards math. I can say that when I was going through high school the number of girls in the advanced math courses were cut in half each year from years 9-12 until there were almost none in the calculus course in my high school. However, in the years after I was in school this changed dramatically. What this could mean is that in the next few years more women over 40 will start studying math. In my first year courses I see a roughly 50-50 split between the sexes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some states will allow graduation after 10th grade

Eight states in the U.S. are planning to participate in a program that will allow students to graduate 2 years early assuming that they pass the appropriate exams. The tests would cover math, history and science. The program is being introduce by the National Center on Education and the Economy.

The purpose of the program is to allow students who are interested in a vocational or college degree to not have to take the full four years of high school. Even if students pass the tests they may opt to during their junior and senior years of high school to take college prep courses Massachusetts decided not to implement the program because they felt it was aimed at students interested in vocational training and they already have a vocational program developed in their schools.

New York Times coverage