All about math department projects and events.

Microsoft dropped by!

The Microsoft Surface media team visited my BC & Multivariable Calculus class today to do some filming for Surface promo materials. The class went really well and I got to fold (!) in some Origami into my lesson. I’ll be sure to post links to the final promo product(s) as soon as they air.

Here’s my screen recording from class:

The Star Project

Over the past week my BC & Multivariable Calculus class has begun their journey working through the wonderful land of three dimensional space. In order to get my students to think more deeply about the dimensions they are now operating within, I have been working Origami into my lessons. I started with hyperbolic paraboloids and now have just taught them the first few skills they will need to create their own 60-piece stars.


They now know how to make the pieces and over the next few days I will be helping them figure out how to fit them together into a closed, 60-piece star! Here’s what the whole process looks like:

Hyperbolic Paraboloids

One of my favorite surfaces is the hyperbolic paraboloid. So, of course, all of my students need to know how to fold one from a square sheet of paper. Last night my BC & Multi students practiced their folding skills and today in class their quiz was to fold one on their own without the instructions. They certainly impressed me with their folding skills!

Here are the instruction (PDF). Try folding one!

Their homework creations:

photo 1

Folding quiz:

photo 2

The hyperbolic paraboloid lineup!

photo 3

A family:

photo 4

The hallway bulletin board:

photo 5

Sleep Stats Summary

Here’s what Mrs. Baldwin has to say about the sleep data she collected over the last 6 weeks:

“As good statisticians, we of course recognize that our data are being collected through voluntary sampling. This is less of a problems when the data are easy to gather and we give several opportunities for people to participate. The data should represent the Williston community fairly well, but likely underrepresent faculty and students who don’t find themselves on the Math floor of the Schoolhouse.

We can see that our community of Williston students and faculty shows a lot of variation. We have a low of one hour of sleep and a high of 13 hours. A typical member of the community gets about 7 hours with the observations becoming less and less common as they extend above or below that. Since there are about as many high extremes as there are low extremes and there is a single peak, we call the shape of the picture “unimodal” and “symmetric” (we could fold the graph in half and get about the same picture on either side). Our observations about the shape suggest that the underlying distribution could very well be our good friend The Normal Distribution. We’ll see you again soon, Normal Distribution, bye for now…”

How many hours of sleep did you get last night?

Sleep Stats - Final

US Math Students of the Trimester

I am excited to announce a new award, the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester!


Each math faculty member was free to choose whichever student of theirs they thought best exemplified what they are looking for in a model mathematics student. The official description of the award is as follows:

“Awarded to students who exemplify the math department’s core values of competence, confidence, and perseverance while helping their peers realize the relevance and importance of an exceptional mathematical education both for its beauty and for its practical application.”

The following students have been recognized as the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester for T1 2013.

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding mathematics students!

Nile Buranasiri
Nile Buranasiri

Nile Buranasiri – I chose Nile because of the way he dealt with the challenges he faced this trimester. Throughout the trimester Nile met the demands of Honors Precalculus with a serious commitment to doing his best. He took advantage of every opportunity to improve his understanding and results, and he did so with grace. He impressed me with his tenacity, his positive attitude and his determination.

Aek Nana
Aek Nana

Aek Nana –  He is one of the most conscientious students and he is always stays focused and on task. Has a good math mind and has an average over 98%.

Cade Zawacki
Cade Zawacki

Cade Zawacki – Cade has fully adopted the role of a statistician. He is careful and thorough in his work, thinks deeply about statistical concepts and articulates quantitative results in context. He is a model for his fellow AP statistics students.

Melissa Falcone
Melissa Falcone

Melissa Falcone – Melissa has demonstrated what hard work is all about this trimester. Always attentive in class, Melissa has taken the extra steps necessary to become the strongest algebra student she can be. She has sought extra help, taken healthy risks in class by volunteering and studied diligently for all assessments. She has set goals for herself and relentlessly pursued those goals. A 97 on her chapter 3 test was the proof that unwavering effort has its rewards.

Ava McElhone Yates
Ava McElhone Yates

Ava McElhone Yates – Ava is a great mathematician, but not because she always gets the material as soon as I present it. Yes, she will sometimes understand concepts very quickly, but more importantly, when she doesn’t see how to do a problem right away, she plugs away at it, working diligently to find a solution. She seeks extra help often, and she always asks questions in class. She always has a positive attitude, and she never lets herself get discouraged by mistakes.

Tory Kolbjornson
Tory Kolbjornson

Tory Kolbjornson – Tory consistently demonstrates the logic, creativity and discipline required of any engineering student. Her C++ programs and the contents of her Engineering Notebook reflect a superior attention to detail. This high standard of academic excellence has allowed Tory (and her Robot) to achieve two perfect scores in our Robot Challenges.

Gabe Hohmann
Gabe Hohmann

Gabe Hohmann – Gabe has done an outstanding job, working hard to master all of the material covered so far this year. He is supportive of his classmates and seems truly interested in understanding and assimilating the concepts of calculus.

Olivia Rother
Olivia Rother

Olivia Rother – Olivia is always upbeat and has kind words for all in the class. She has excellent work habits. Her effort on homework is perfect and in class she answers and asks questions easily and without fear of being incorrect. She is always open to finding her errors, correcting them, and taking responsibility for them.

Jesse Ware
Jesse Ware

Jesse Ware – Not only does Jesse preserver through a class that he finds very challenging, he continually finds ways to have fun. He doesn’t shy away from asking for help, and enjoys helping others. In a class that centers around collaborative work, Jesse shines as a model student who helps make every group he is a part of better.

Loren Po
Loren Po

Loren Po – Loren is a very hard working and insightful math student. He is always willing to share his knowledge of the material on which we are working with the class to help us keep moving forward. His classmates view him as a leader both in and out of the classroom.

Jiaying Tang
Jiaying Tang

Jiaying Tang – Jiaying has gone above and beyond on each assignment. She is always asking to do more problems. She shows a desire to understand the material at the highest level possible. She consistently strives for perfection in her work.

Maisy Glick
Maisy Glick

Maisy Glick – Maisy earned a 100% in Precalculus during the first trimester.  Her participation in class demonstrated her thorough understanding of the material.  Maisy sought extra help when she ran into problems she was unsure of.  She also frequently helped her friends and classmates in Precalculus, especially during group work and class activities.



Sleep Stats

Ms. Baldwin is using one of the boards in the math hallways to collect stats from students and faculty members. How much sleep do you get each night? Pick the proper sticker color and add it to the chart! Add one each day! Here’s the data growing over the last few days:
















Student Screen Recording on the Surface

For the past several weeks I’ve had my BC Calculus students create screen recording. Here are 20 of the videos they have created so far:

The two main purposes of the videos are to get my students to think more carefully about why they are taking each step in a problem and also to give them a way to share off their work to each other and the world. Explaining what they are doing in the videos also gives my students another way to verbally express themselves, a key skill that every math student needs to master. Additionally, by watching their own videos, each student learns a tremendous amount about how to improve their own work and general expression of mathematical thoughts.

Also, we’ll be working to create a master database of student videos that can be leveraged not only by my students to study for upcoming assessments, but also by anyone else in the world, at any time. Think a Khan Academy of student made videos for students. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, check out this site created last year by my Algebra 1 students at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Here are a few specific ways I have used student videos:

1) We’ve played several of them to start off class. We’ll then talk about what we liked about the video, what content the video helped us learn, and how the video could be improved. I feel as though communication between my students has become more open and frequent because of these all-class viewing discussions.

2) Two days before a test I had the students share, via a PollEverywhere poll, which topic they were having the most trouble with. They then grouped up with other students that had chosen the same topic, and worked through some practice problems. Each group was then tasked with having each group member choose a specific problem from that topic that they would solve and record. The task was the same class-wide, but specifically tailored to optimally support each individual student.

Here are a few things I have learned about screen recording on the Surface:

1) I highly recommend updating the audio drivers on your Surface before you begin recording. By updating, you’ll gain more audio recording options and also solve some huge static issues that some Surfaces seem to have.

Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 2.54.42 PM2) Two free ways to create screen recordings are to use the websites or Screenr. Both sites are Java reliant free sites that allow anyone with a browser and an internet connection to record their screen. While the Screenr site is a bt more slick and polished, my students have, almost universally, Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 2.54.32 PMpreferred to use Screencast-O-matic (SOM). They have found SOM to be easier to use and more stable. Also, you don’t need to create any kind of account on SOM in order to download the videos you create. That being said, I have a couple student who do like to use Screenr.

3) I have been having students upload their completed videos to an assignment dropbox on Schoology. This system has worked well. You can watch the videos in your browser without the need to download the file to your computer directly. That being said, Schoology does provide a direct link you can use to download each file, something you’ll need to do if you’re going to post any of the videos on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other video sharing system/service.

4) While Screenr and SOM do work and are free, they do take a bit of setup (Java… grrr…), and don’t have too many options. Eventually, my plan is to transition all of my student to using SnagIt, a really fantastic screen recording program that I use to record all of my classes and flipped lessons. It’s super stable, very easy to use, and has the perfect balance of features. It’s also not free. My hope is that the program will be folded into the image that’s used on all student Surfaces at Williston. Considering the value of student screen recordings, this should be an easy sell.

All about math department projects and events.