kitchen table math, the sequel: 6/6/10 - 6/13/10

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Allison on SAT prep

I would teach anyone taking the SAT that they should *know the strategy* to answer the question by the time they've finished reading it, or they should move on and go back to it later.

The goal of SAT prep and math courses, generally, should be to study enough math that nearly all of the problems are that immediately clear to you--you know by the time you've finished reading them how you're going to solve them.

21st century

SMART Boards & SMART Tables, too

Senior Bertrand Ngampa gives a presentation on an interactive whiteboard at W.T. Woodson High. (Dayna Smith/Post)

'Math Strategies for Women'

from Gruber's Complete SAT Math Workbook:
These are questions that women found significantly more difficult than men did. However, after learning the strategies in this book, women scored just as high as men on these sections.

1. Carol has twice as many books a Beverly has. After Carol gives Beverly 5 books, she still has 10 more books than Beverly has. How many books did Carol originally have?

2. 5_2 x 9 = 5,2_8 (missing digits are different)

3. If s equals 1/2 percent of t, what percent of s is t?
I find this passage kind of charming: a remnant from a more innocent time. And I'm sure he's right. I'm sure these are problems Betty Draper would have struggled with.

Meanwhile, Gruber doesn't seem to have noticed the presence of algebra 2 on the new exam. If Betty's having trouble managing a simple story problem, she's really going to blow a gasket when somebody asks her to solve an inequality involving absolute value.

Education: Preparing Americans

I'm concerned that WEAK Common Core Math Standards
(especially regarding "authentic" Algebra 2) will diminish our students' preparedness to achieve their personal goals.

Here's why..

Adelman, C. 1999. Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

In the "selected findings" section, you'll find:
"Of all pre-college curricula, the highest level of mathematics one studies in secondary school has the strongest continuing influence on bachelor's degree completion. Finishing a course beyond the level of Algebra 2 (for example, trigonometry or pre-calculus) more than doubles the odds that a student who enters postsecondary education will complete a bachelor's degree"

The Toolbox Revisited "Reiterations" [p. 108]

First, there was a story about curriculum, the content of schooling, that was compelling in its secondary school dimensions in the original Tool Box, and is even more compelling now on both secondary and postsecondary stages. What you study, how much of it, how deeply, and how intensely has a great deal to do with degree completion.

Second, this curriculum story, joined by nuances of attendance patterns that turn out to have significant leverage, continues into higher education.

It’s not merely getting beyond Algebra 2 in high school any more: The world demands advanced quantitative literacy, and no matter what a student’s postsecondary field of study—from occupationally-oriented programs through traditional liberal arts— more than a ceremonial visit to college-level mathematics is called for.

The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School Through College

Friday, June 11, 2010

boys & girls & SAT math


I've only skimmed the post, but I don't see a passage where he controls for the higher number of boys dropping out of high school.

I got a book today that has a page dedicated to the specific problems girls have trouble with - pretty funny. (He could be right for all I know. However, I'm having lots of trouble with SAT math but none whatsoever with the problems the author cites.)

I'll post tomorrow.

"SAT work"

a 2008 blog

hours and hours

from Susan S:
The worst part about the hours and hours of project making and coloring is the neglect of basic skills that will be needed for high school.

Somewhere around the end of 7th grade, I realized my son could barely hold a pencil or pen for more than a couple of sentences. There was no flow to his writing. It was just torture for him. I thought I was done with afterschooling only to realize we had to start all over and get him caught up.

Even in a class like social studies, he was expected to write a couple of things in a notebook, but then illustrate the page. Of course, he'd been typing since the 4th grade, so he'd forgotten cursive. But it wasn't just cursive he had forgotten. He was even unsure of certain letters in block form.

When I would receive his middle school journal at the end of the year I would notice basic words misspelled consistently, thus searing the wrong spelling into his brain. It was a nightmare to go through all of that and get him straight.

It took a good 4-5 weeks of writing summaries, bios, etc. every other day just to get him to form the letters automatically and quickly and without fatigue.

I have no idea why they do this. I do sense that they get pressure from upstairs to have a certain amount of project work. I imagine if they didn't have extended response and essays on the state tests, they'd probably not have them write at all.

Like math facts, they believe that these things just take care of themselves.

the brick problem

The pattern shown above is composed of rectangles. This pattern is used repeatedly to completely cover a rectangular region 12L units long and 10L units wide. How many rectangles of dimension L by W are needed?

answer choices:
A) 30
B) 36
C) 100
D) 150
E) 180

solution here and here

The Official SAT Study Guide

standard celeration charts

I'm thinking it's time I finally figured out Celeration Charts.

Combining Pavlov’s (1960/1927) use of frequency as a standard unit in the measurement of scientific phenomena and Skinner’s (1938) use of frequency, free operant behavior, and the cumulative recorder with his knowledge of engineering and interest in navigation, Lindsley brought to psychology and education the most powerful and scientific use of measurement applied to human behavior. In 1965, he developed what was first called the Standard Behavior Chart, now more accurately described as a family of Standard Celeration Chart —standard measurement charts for human behavior in daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly time periods. This paper provides an overview of these four types of Standard Celeration Charts.

Since 1967, educators and others have used the Standard Behavior Chart (now called the Standard Celeration Chart) to observe human behavior and improve learning. The people behaving have ranged from fetuses to those in their 80s (Calkin, 1983; Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Edwards & Edwards, 1970). Some behaviors counted have included all day counts of fetal movement (Calkin, 1983), positive and negative feelings about self (Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Kostewicz, Kubina, & Cooper, 2000; Kubina, Haertel, & Cooper, 1994), as well as the more usual 1-minute timings of academic behaviors such as Hear Say question then answer (Zambolin, Fabrizio, & Isley, 2004), See Write math facts (Stromberg & Chappell, 1990), Think Say and Think Write American government facts (using 1-minute, 2-minute, and 5-minute timings) (Ellis, 1980), Write words (Albrecht, 1981), and See Say parts of a microscope or skeleton (Miller & Calkin 1980).


Using the Standard Celeration Chart makes two critical elements apparent. First, behavior grows by multiplying, not by adding. If Janel wants to improve her learning, she knows that to grow from one to two is to double and is identical to growing from 50 to 100, not from 50 to 51. When she wants to learn something new or change a behavior or feeling, she wants change by doubling, not by adding or deleting one at a time. If Abigail says 35 Russian conversation words in one minute (to which no Russian will listen for long!) and grows by adding one a day, it will take 215 days, or 31 weeks, to reach fluent speech. If she learns by doubling each week, she can get from 35 words per minute to 250 in 50 days, or seven weeks. If Gemma is a slow reader and reads 62 words a minute at grade level and wants to read 200 words per minute, does her teacher want her to grow by adding or multiplying? If Alan has 100 suicide thoughts a day, does he want to reduce them by one or two per day or by ÷5.0 per week?

Secondly, the chart makes us look at not only the frequency of a person’s performance, but also at the growth of learning across time, (i.e., the celeration). Within the first five years of using the chart, several of its powerful elements became increasingly apparent. Frequency is performance: It tells what happened during one time period, but by itself it tells little about learning. To see whether performance accelerates or decelerates, we need to measure it across time. Since 1971, we have called this change in learning celeration.1 Acceleration indicates an increase in the growth of change of the frequency, in the learning of the behavior. Deceleration indicates a decrease in the learning of the behavior.

Frequency is the count per minute: the number of times Steve does independent or dependent actions per hour; the number of pieces of science equipment Greg names correctly and incorrectly in one minute; the number of words Chris reads correctly and incorrectly per minute; the number of pleasant and unpleasant self-thoughts Angie has per day. These behaviors show performance. Celeration is the count per minute per week. It shows change in performance, or learning across time. We measure celeration, (i.e., learning) by the week, or, if using larger time measures, changes by the month, year, or decade. Celeration: Steve’s actions per hour, each day, per week; Greg’s pieces of science equipment he points to and says per minute, each day, per week; Chris’s words read per minute, each day, per week; Angie’s thoughts about self per minute all day, each day, per week.



One of the DI-list folks wrote a post about learning Italian using SAFMEDS.

S- Say
A- All
F- Fast
M- Minute
E- Each
D- Day
S- Shuffled

SAFMEDS and celeration charts at University of North Texas.

And: applied behavior analysis SAFMEDS. Just in case.

Allison explains absolute value inequalities

Catherine: also, I have completely forgotten how to set up and solve a simple inequality involving absolute value

Allison: You need to think about what it means.

The absolute value of any number equal to or greater than 0 is itself. x-->x

The abs value of any number less than 0 is the number*-1, or the number with its sign dropped: x --> -x.

So break down the inequality you see into other inequalities.

|x| - 2 > 3

|x| > 5:

allowable positive values of x satisfy
x > 5

allowable negative values of x satisfy
-x > 5

you "solve" this by switching sides (do you know why you're allowed to do that?)
and that becomes
x < -5

Now, you do |x - 3| < 5 in a similar way. To make yourself less confused, write (x-3) = y
and work on
|y| < 5

Then after you've got that into equations without the abs value, sub back in the x-3.


Time is our most valuable nonrenewable resource, and if we want to treat it with respect, we need to set priorities.

Albert-László Barabási
Dutton, 310 pages, $26.95

Hurry Up and Wait

redkudu on

from Redkudu:
The assigning of art projects is just lazy grading, as far as I'm concerned. You can spot-check for the required elements without the need to analyze whether the student has mastered the material. Plus, it all looks good when admin stops by and they see all this "student engagement" thrown up all over the walls.

At our school, no matter what class they visit, students inevitably have to create a poster about themselves containing descriptive words and pictures. Most of them end up being on the inappropriate side because students are given few guidelines of what to say about themselves, so they generally try to reinforce the more shallow exterior facade they would *like* to represent to their peers. (We live in a tough area.)

Last year one of my students asked if we were going to do an "All About Me" poster project. I said no, and asked if she minded.

She said no. "I'm really tired of having to tell people about myself."
This reminds me of a friend's son who, assigned another memoir in 8th grade, told his mom, "I'm running out of memories."

honors English

from Lisa:
For honors English dd had to create a Beowulf cereal box, complete with list of ingredients and prize inside. Crazy! I suggested they read the whole work instead. The teacher was unimpressed by my suggestion. Thank you Katharine for pointing this out to folks who don't have kids in the PS system.
Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School
by Katharine Beals

lgm on school board elections

Also take in to account that a large minority of potential voters are employees of the school district and that the union is actively ensuring that particular candidates be put up for election. An independent candidate has a lot of work to do to counteract the organization and get out the vote in my area.
This is one of the main reasons why we have mayoral control of the schools, right?

projects we have known and loved

from Barry Garelick:
Not only is the tissue box assignment real, but elsewhere in her book Katharine talks about how in language classes, kids have to make posters about their family. My daughter had to do a family tree chart with photos for her Spanish class. The teacher lost the poster, and called my daughter at home to ask her to do another one, and said it was important for her grade. (!!) My daughter, who didn't like the assignment to begin with was infuriated to have to do it again, and all because the teacher had lost the first one. The sadder aspect of all this is parents get drawn in to the "this project is worth a lot of points for your grade" type thinking, and are afraid to make waves by telling the teacher that the student is NOT going to do this; please give an alternative assignment.

For English class in 8th grade, the teacher gave the students a choice of projects for Lord of the Flies. One was a standard book report. Others included designing a T shirt about the book. My daughter hated the alternatives and chose writing the book report. And she is not fond of writing!

I'm reading Katharine's book right now and have nothing but praise for it. I am going to recommend it to several teachers I know at George Mason's ed school. I really think it should be required reading.

Googlemaster on the German tissue box

re: the German tissue box assignment:
That's awful! I can't decide whether I would refuse to turn one in or create one with variations of "Dies ist die dümmste Idee überhaupt" all over it.

help desk

If 20 percent of x equals 80 percent of y, which of the following expresses y in terms of x?

(A) y = 16% of x
(B) y = 25% of x
(C) y = 60% of x
(D) y = 100% of x
(E) y = 400% of x

The Official SAT Study Guide 2006
p. 550

I absolutely cannot do this question, and I don't know why.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

cranberry on how politics work

There's nothing wrong with public debate about the manner in which a town or city chooses to spend the majority of its budget.

Those who want to change public schools for the better are forced to use the bottom-up process. The internet makes this much more effective, as it's no longer possible for administrators to placate the discontented with different answers for different people. When parents can compare the answers they received online, with parents in other grades, it's no longer possible for school system insiders to "manage the message."
This is something I don't think I've ever posted, here or on the Forum: there were unnamed others who co-founded the Forum with me, one of whom gave me the "theory of the listserv." Which had to do with the fact that whenever a parent approached the administration about a problem, she was told, "Your child is the only one having a problem."

And/or: "You are the only parent complaining."

Once parents began posting on a public listserv, this parent said to me, "They'll know that we know that they know."

Miscommunication and distrust arise when people notice that they've been told different things, and when committees are thanked for their input, are patted on the head, and then the committees must watch their recommendations put on a shelf and ignored.

A top-down solution would need the superintendent's support. The choice of a superintendent falls to the school board. The only way to influence the school board is to influence its composition. The only way to influence its composition is to convince enough voters of the necessity for change. That process is bottom-up. It always has been. The internet has made it easier to reach and organize voters.

Outside grass-root politics, there is no way to induce a wealthy public school to provide direct instruction in synthetic phonics and "traditional" math. At least, none that I've seen or experienced. Public schools aren't collaborative, and they don't see parents as valued customers or clients. They do what they do.

So democratic politics is the only avenue to reform, but one difficulty is that affluent public schools (perhaps all public schools?) see themselves as existing outside the political realm; dissent is illegitimate. Heck, affluent public schools, at least in my experience, see school boards as illegitimate. I've spent the past year listening to our administrators mock, disrespect, and even denounce the most independent member of the board, a woman who ran on a reform platform and won.

More from cranberry:

I should add that by the time any school reform efforts bear fruit, the original malcontents' children have left the system, either by graduating or changing to private schools.

This is everywhere the case, including in the youth sports organizations, I'm told. The powers that be wait for the troublemakers to age out of the system.

That is an anomaly in my town, where more than a few people whose children have graduated are politically engaged in reform efforts. Another anomaly: voters whose primary concern is extremely high school taxes and spending are allied with voters whose primary concern is student achievement. For some voters, those two concerns are different faces of the same problem: they are convinced that too much spending on the wrong things lowers academic quality.

It's not a perfect process, by any means. I think in most years, school administrators tend to get what they want. People who don't have children in the system only start paying attention when money gets tight.

The state and federal government also get involved. At present, our state is proposing to drop standards which are thought to be the best in the nation for standards which have not yet been set (and thus, can't be compared.) I'd love to be able to act in a top-down way on this. As a single citizen, though, it's just not possible.

Without political organization, parents don't have a voice.


"A revolution takes time to settle in." ~Lanza del Vasto

(thanks to Concerned CT Parent)

Engineering Project Lifecycle

1) Enthusiasm
2) Disillusionment
3) Panic
4) Search for the Guilty
5) Punishing the Innocent
6) Rewarding those not involved

(thanks to Mark Roulo)


First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then you win.


(thanks to Mark Roulo)

national standards

Jay Greene:
But perhaps the strongest objection to national standards that we have repeated at JPGB (here, here, and here) is that even if the current set of proposed national standards is an improvement for some states (and less good than others), there is strong reason to fear that people opposed to sensible, rigorous standards will gain control over the newly created national standards infrastructure and be in a position to impose their nonsense on everyone. Remember that teacher unions, ed schools, and other opponents of tough standards that might expose the shortcomings of schools and teachers are much better organized and politically powerful than anyone else in education politics. Over time they will gain control of the machinery of national standards even if they do not control it now.

National Standards Nonsense Redux

And Neal McCluskey:
....Which brings us to a whole different layer of policy making, one major media wade into even less often than legislating: writing regulations. How many stories have you read, or watched on TV news, about the writing of regulations for implementing anything, education or otherwise? I’d imagine precious few, yet this is where often vaguely written statutes are transformed into on-the-ground operations. It’s also where the special interests are almost always represented — after all, they’re the ones who will be regulated — but average taxpayers and citizens? Don’t go looking for them.

Plowing Through the Defenses of National Education Standards

Until parents have a union - an organized presence, inside the political arena, as parents - national standards are going to be controlled by the organized entities that control things now: ed schools and teacher unions.

I'm pretty sure.

college grads & jobs

at the Wall Street Journal

reading comprehension at OILF

pill bugs vs. beavers

SAT prep

I'm going to take the SAT, and I want to score a 700 on math, minimum.

Any suggestions?

I love anti Nerd's advice re: Math Workbook for the New SAT (Barron's Math Workbook for the Sat I) 3rd Edition.
I've taken my SATs May of 2003, and October 2003. I scored 740 for May SAT and achieved 780 for October SAT. This book is one of the best books for mathematics. It depends on how well you use this book. Anyways, I'll tell how i used this book.

First week: I bought the book, went over the concepts, structures, tricks, strategies, one of 10 REAL SATs practice exam to know what score i would rank, read through beginning stuff.

Second week: Starting this week, I work on chapter 3, which deals with arithmetic skills and concepts. There are 8 lessons in chapter 3. I did 2 lessons a day starting Monday, and then Friday, I relax and review the lessons I've practiced. When you study, you must MASTER the concepts. Knowing the concept does not help.

Third week: There are 7 lessons in Chapter 4 which deals with Algebra. I do two lessons a day, for 4th day, when I only do 1 lesson, I work on my weaknesses in Chapter 4. Then 5th day, I review and study. When review, review lessons from previous chapters so that you won't forget.

Fourth week: There are 5 lessons in Chapter 5. I work 2 lessons a day, and then I review and study as usual.

Fifth week: Chapter 6 deals with Geometry, which was one of my weaknesses. So I decided to learn 1 lesson a day since there are 8 lessons and SAT strongly emphasizes a lot on geometry. So fifth week, I've done 4 lessons, one lesson each day. 5th day, I reviewed.

Sixth week: I've continued and finish last 4 lessons and reviewed as well

Seventh week: I went back to my routine plan and studied two lessons a day, and then reviewed.

Eighth week: I worked on Chapter 8, last chapter before practice exams. 5 lessons, study.

9th week: Then after I've studied these chapters, I go over and review all the problems, questions, concepts from previous chapters. I review chapters 3-5.

10th week: Same as 9th week but I reviewed chapters 6-8.

11th and 12th week. I took practice exams to familiar myself with the exams. After you see the score you've got, go to problems and check to see if you made a mistake because you weren't careful enough. Then assume that it's correct and check your score again. For instance, You got 630 on practice exam but if you didn't make stupid mistakes, what could you have gotten?, 650? 700?

From this point, you're pretty much set for SAT Math. Note that I'm one of the biggest slacker with horrible English skills who's from Korea and still get high score. I am NOT a genius or some nerd. I received grades of Bs and Cs in mathematic courses in past and if I can pull this off, you can. This is a 3 month plan I've made beginning of junior year.

My parents told me that cramming does not work and that I should space out studying to learn more effectively. I am a fan of Bruce Lee and he has stated long time ago that "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." This means that you shouldn't assume you know the concept just because you've solved few easy problems. You should apply the concept as many times as you can and do them properly.

People say "practice makes perfect". It does not. PERFECT practice ALMOST makes perfect. You'll never get your goals to be perfect if you don't practice it properly and people make mistakes once in a while, so nobody is perfect.

In Psychology, It shows that spaced practice and overlearning helps for studies because overlearning and spaced practice puts your learning to long-term memory where it wont' decay for a long time.

When I say review and stdy everytime, it means, know the concept really well and master them by applying them as much as possible to every problems. When i say two lessons, it means, solve every problems in those lessons. I've also used Kaplan Math Workbook for practice problems to strengthen my concepts. I've studied previous chapters When I was studying chapters 4/5/6/7/8 to prevent my brain from forgetting.

I used this method to tutor students also as well. It worked for my studnets. I've raised most students' scores. My best student raised his score from 580 to 720, then he quit learning from me after 3 months, learned on his own from knowing this method for 2 months, and achieved 800. Student getting higher than a teacher? If I can do this, anyone can.

left-brained children in a right-brained world

Ed and I and our new school board member went to the Yale Club last night to hear Katharine talk about her book: Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World. A wonderful night, but the children's stories were sad -- which we hadn't expected. We expected to feel our customary exasperation; we hadn't expected to feel sad.

Here is Josh:
"I hate school," Josh announces. It's a Monday night in late September, the beginning of Josh's fourth week at one of the best middle schools the city has to offer, a math and science magnet that attracts the strongest teachers in the district, a school that his parents had set their sights on for years.

Ben, Josh's dad, looks up from the computer. "What do you mean?" They're both at the dining room table, which doubles as an after-dinner work space.

"I hate school," Josh repeats, raising his voice and thwacking a yellow foler against the table.

If Josh has said this before, it's never been with such vehemence.

"Please explain," Ben says.

"Take a look at the projects they just assigned us." Josh scoots the folder across the table.

Ben takes it and peers inside.

"There's a sheet for each subject," Josh says. "Take a look."

Ben pulls out several sheets and pages through: "Design a Playground," "Decorate a Tissue Box," Construct a Diorama."

"That's a lot of art homework," remarks Ben. "What about your other subjects."

"Dad, that's the point," yells Josh. "These are for my other subjects."

"Which ones?" Ben pages back through. Everywhere the same phrases keep popping up: "Be colorful." "Be creative."

"All of them. "Math, English, German . . . The tissue box is for German."

Ben looks again: "Decorate a box of tissues with German words, drawings, etc. Pick the vocabulary from chapters 1 or 2, and use those words to decorate your box of tissues. Put the number of the chapter you've chosen on your box also."

"You've got to be kidding."

Ben turns to the next page: "Construct a diorama illustrating the climactic scene of your novel."

"That's for English," Josh says. "The playground's for math. That last sheet is for science." He reaches for the folder, pulls out one more page, and hands it to Ben: "Write a three-page paper tha includes a description of a movie, television show, or a book that involves a scientific conept, a summary of the scientific concept, and an explanation of the relationship between the actual concept and how it is used in the movie, television show, or book."

Ben and his wife enrolled Josh at the math and science magnet not only because their son excels in math and science but because he's never been that motivated about writing, and is even less inspired by the arts-and-crafts activities that dominated his elementary school classes. This school, they thought, would finally give him a break. Instead, it turns out, Josh now gets to take this nonsense home as homework. Assaulted by a mental image of him bent over a shoebox, scowling and clenching his jaw as he glues in a carboard cutout of a Billy Pilgrim stick figure, Ben wonders how they could have been so wrong about the schoo. And how could the faculty of this math and science magnet be so wrongheaded?

pp. 86-87

The German tissue box assignment is real.

"practice each skill in isolation"

How to Survive Your College Math Class:
There is an overall pattern to learning mathematics. It applies to the structure of entire courses and it applies as well to your mastery of each of the skills you learn. You will recognize it as well if you have ever learned to play a sport or a musical instrument.

1. Practice each individual skill in isolation, under controlled circumstances, until you can do it easily and with con fidence.

2. Integrate the individual skills into sequences. Practice until you can chain skills together with di fferent variations, easily and with con fidence.

3. Practice in a realistic context, until you can deal with complete real world problems easily and with confi dence.

4. Go forth and solve real problems.

If you apply the suggestions here and make e ective use of the resources available to you (books, instructor, classmates), you are likely to suddenly find yourself doing mathematics, and maybe even liking it.

How to Survive Your College Math Class
(and Take Home Something of Value)
Matthew Saltzman and Marie Coffin
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Clemson University
Draft: August 25, 1998
There are few practices more frowned upon in public schools these days than teaching skills "in isolation." Hence: project based learning. Ed says if it were up to the schools, we wouldn't have subjects. We'd just have Subject.

Don't laugh.

They already tried it in Holland.

completing the square


What is the speaker's accent? (video)

what is logarithm, mommy?

This site looks like it might be good....

Mathematics and Statistics Help (MASH)
University of Sheffield

Professor of Economics Asks...

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics. Wall Street Journal Opinion

Daniel Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University. This op-ed is based on an article published in the May 2010 issue of the journal he edits, Econ Journal Watch, a project sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research.

The article is available HERE

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Yesterday C. and I went to Playland for their annual developmental disabilities day, also known as our annual Playland fudge day. Just inside the entrance, there's a fudge stand that sells the best fudge I've ever consumed, and C. and I binge on the stuff once a year.*

The price is $3 per piece, or buy 4 pieces & get one free.

I told the young person behind the counter that I wanted 15 pieces, and she began methodically filling up the boxes. Methodically .... and .... slowly. At some point in this process, possibly thinking I could speed things along, I said, "So that's $36, right?"

And she said "No." She didn't seem to be exactly sure how much 15 pieces would be, but she didn't think it was going to be $36.

I said, "You get 1 free with each 4, right?"


"So I'm paying for 12 pieces and getting 3 pieces free."

She looked confused. I went over it again, but she still didn't think $36 sounded right.

Finally I said, "I want to buy 3 boxes of fudge, with 4 pieces in each box and 1 extra free piece," and that did the trick. Twelve dollars a box.

I don't think she knew how to work backwards from "15 pieces of fudge" to 12 pieces of fudge at $3/each + 3 extra free pieces.

Meanwhile, here are the "mathematical practices" required by the new Common Core standards (pdf file) for Kindergarten:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4. Model with mathematics.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
6. Attend to precision.
7. Look for and make use of structure.

* Have I mentioned the fact that I've de-veganed myself? Well, I have.

exercise & better grades

Vigorous Exercise Linked With Better Grades

Just staring at this headline is making me feel guilty.

Time to corral the dogs & go for a run.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

the most fun part

I love the Corner Office series.

Here is Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive of Nvidia, on the origins of his ability to 'fail forward':
When I was in high school, nothing gave me greater joy than computer games. It was part of how I grew up. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the video game era, but I’ve never beaten myself up about mistakes. When I try something and it doesn’t turn out, I go back and try it again.

Most of the time when you’re playing a game, you’re losing. You lose and lose and lose until you beat it. That’s kind of how the game works, right? It’s feedback. And then eventually you beat it.

As it turns out, the most fun parts of a game are when you’re losing. When you finally beat it there’s a moment of euphoria but then it’s over. Maybe it’s because I grew up in that generation, I have the ability to take chances, which leads to the ability to innovate and try new things. Those are important life lessons that came along.

I’m Prepared for Adversity. I Waited Tables.
Published: June 4, 2010
interview by Adam Bryant