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Joint Meetings Returns to San Francisco, Moscone West, January 13 - 16, 2010
MAA Minicourses

For updated locations, click here; All locations are subject to change

Minicourses are open only to persons who register for the Joint Meetings and pay the Joint Meetings registration fee in addition to the appropriate minicourse fee. The MAA reserves the right to cancel any minicourse that is undersubscribed. Participants in minicourses #1-#4 are required to bring their own laptop computer equipped with appropriate software. Instructions on how to download any data files needed for those courses will be provided by the organizers. All minicourses will be held in the San Francisco Marriott Hotel. The enrollment in each minicourse is limited to 50; the cost for each minicourse is US$75. Click here to register.

Please click on each number to go to that minicourse number and description.

Minicourse #1: Remodeling data analysis, organized by Daniel Kaplan and Vittorio Addona, Macalester College.Part 1: Thursday, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. This minicourse presents an approach taken in the first course in statistics and data analysis at Macalester College to bring meaningful mathematics back into data analysis courses by way of statistical modeling. Doing so can dramatically improve the ability of students to analyze data from complex, real-world, multi-variable systems. Modeling provides a strong mathematically unifying framework for statistics and at the same time ties the course more closely to the scientific method and exigencies of realistic, multi-variable data. As a genuine data analysis course that fully implements the GAISE standards, it is required for mathematics majors and other client disciplines like biology and economics. However, it is attractive for liberal arts majors as well. In addition to outlining the statistical modeling approach, the mini-course will provide participants with materials--texts, exercises, in-class activities, software--they can use to adopt the approach at their own institutions.

Minicourse #2:Using GeoGebra to create activities and applets for visualization and exploration, organized by Michael K. May, Saint Louis University. Part 1: Thursday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. GeoGebra is an easy to use, free, open source, cross platform, program that allows the user to visualize and experiment with both algebraic and geometric representations of mathematical concepts. Constructions can optionally be saved as applets that can be used in any java-enabled browser. Sample applets can be found at http://www.slu.edu/classes.maymk/GeoGeoGebra/. The minicourse assumes only novice computer skills and covers an introduction to GeoGebra up through deploying applets in Web pages. We will work through creating several activities to illustrate features of the program and to get participants to create their own activities. Participants are encouraged to load GeoGebra and SeaMonkey onto their computers before the workshop. Installation instructions are available at http://www.slu.edu/classes/maymk/GeoGebra/InstallationOfSoftware.html.

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Minicourse #3: Educating about the state of the planet and sustainability while enhancing calculus, organized by Thomas J. Pfaff, Ithaca College. Part 1: Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Are you concerned about the state of the planet? Do you wish you could help? Over the past five to ten years data has become widely available. Further, society now faces major challenges in climate change and energy security. This minicourse will bring together data, Excel, and sustainability to provide richer context and relevance for calculus. Basically students use Excel to fit curves to real data and then all kinds of fundamentally important questions about sustainability become calculus questions about those curves. Overall the goal is to provide the necessary background information, ideas, and tools to successfully incorporate sustainability themes (or other areas of interest) into a calculus course, without having to change the typical content covered in calculus. Participants will need Excel loaded onto their laptops and are encouraged to bring a calculator.

Minicourse #4: Using video case studies in teaching a proof-based gateway course to the mathematics major, organized by James T. Sandefur, Georgetown University,Connie M. Campbell, Millsaps College, and Kay B. Somers, Moravian College. Part 1: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.; Part 2: Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Many colleges and universities have a gateway course to help mathematics students make the transition to more theoretical courses, with a goal of helping students learn how to understand and construct proofs. The organizers have been videotaping students writing proofs for problems used in gateway courses, and have been using these videos to expand their understanding of students' difficulties and to learn what support helps the students. They have also been using these videos to help students learn to reflect on their own approaches to writing proofs. In this minicourse, we will discuss strategies implied by the videos, as well as help faculty learn how they might use these videos in their own transition course.

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Minicourse #5: Active learning approaches for the foundational mathematics for elementary teachers' courses, organized by Laurie J. Burton, Cheryl Beaver, and Klay T. Kruczek, Western Oregon University. Part 1: Thursday 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. This minicourse is for collegiate mathematics faculty who are new to, or seeking to improve their proficiency in, designing and teaching the K-8 foundational mathematics courses. Minicourse participants will be introduced to the unique challenges of presenting mathematics education content courses to prospective teachers (in contrast to courses directed to other mathematics students) and will be exposed to approaches and resources the workshop leaders have used successfully to meet these challenges. The minicourse will be a hands-on interactive environment showcasing effective pedagogical techniques.

Minicourse #6: Developing departmental self-studies, organized by Donna L. Beers, Simmons College, and Nancy Baxter Hastings, Dickinson College. Part 1: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.; Part 2: Friday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Self-study is a critical component of departmental program review. It is retrospective, engaging department members and other interested parties (e.g., other departments and the administration) in examining all aspects of departmental programs. It is also forward-looking anticipating new areas for growth and contribution. Self-study entails discussion of issues confronting a department; as such, it is both a process of reflection and a report. This minicourse enables participants to determine how a self-study, which is an administrative mandate, can be a positive opportunity for departmental renewal.

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Minicourse #7: Teaching with clickers in the classroom, organized by Derek Bruff, Vanderbilt University, and Adam Lucas, Saint Mary's College of California. Part 1: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.; Part 2: Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Classroom response systems ("clickers") are technologies that enable teachers to rapidly collect and analyze student responses to multiple-choice (and sometimes free-response) questions during class. These systems can be used to engage and assess students in any size class on a variety of topics, including precalculus, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and statistics. This minicourse explores questions and activities that make the most of these systems, as well as solutions to common challenges involved in teaching with clickers, including writing effective clicker questions, structuring class time using clickers, and responding to results of clicker questions.

Minicourse #8: The Fibonacci and Catalan numbers, organized by Ralph Grimaldi, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Part 1: Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. In many introductory courses in discrete mathematics or combinatorics, one often encounters the sequences of numbers called the Fibonacci numbers and the Catalan numbers. This minicourse is designed to demonstrate how certain properties of these sequences come about and to examine where ideas related to these sequences arise in applications dealing with geometry, trigonometry, set theory, number theory, tilings, permutations, chemistry, optics, electrostatics, probability, data structures, lattice paths, and graph theory.

Minicourse #9: Getting students involved in undergraduate research, organized by Aparna W. Higgins, University of Dayton, and Joseph A. Gallian, University of Minnesota Duluth. Part 1: Thursday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Part 2: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. This course will cover many aspects of facilitating research by undergraduates, such as getting students involved in research, finding appropriate problems, deciding how much help to provide, and presenting and publishing the results. Similarities and differences between research conducted during summer programs and research that can be conducted during the academic year will be discussed. Although the examples used will be primarily in the area of discrete mathematics, the strategies discussed can be applied to any area of mathematics.

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Minicourse #10: The hitchhiker's guide to mathematics, organized by Dan Kalman, American University, and Bruce F. Torrence, Randolph Macon College. Part 1: Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.; Part 2: Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. A guided tour of some little known attractions of elementary mathematics, wonders to surprise, delight, and intrigue the mathematical eye. Some may make great enrichment topics for the participants' students, but the course's primary motivations are the edification and enjoyment of the participants themselves. The Hitchhiker's Guide to Mathematics answers questions like these: What does the quadratic formula have to do with the functions max(x,y) and min(x,y)? For which rational x is sin2x rational? What is the point of reversing a polynomial and its derivative, and then dividing one into the other? What are palindromic polynomials, and how can they be solved up to degree 9? Participants are encouraged to bring a calculator.

Minicourse #11: The mathematics of Islam and its use in the teaching of mathematics, organized by Victor J. Katz, University of the District of Columbia. Part 1: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Part 2: Friday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. In the current world situation, it is critical that American students be exposed to some of the culture of Islam. Thus, this minicourse introduces college teachers to the mathematics of Islam and develops some ideas on using Islamic mathematical ideas in the teaching of mathematics. The course will consider mathematical ideas taken from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Participants will read from some of the original sources and discuss the ideas and their implications. In particular, we will consider how some of the examples of Islamic mathematics can be used in modern courses in high school and college.

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Minicourse #12: Learning discrete mathematics via historical projects, organized by Jerry Lodder, Guram Bezhanishvili, and David J. Pengelley, New Mexico State University. Part 1: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m., Part 2: Friday, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. This minicourse will introduce curricular modules, based entirely on primary historical source material, for courses in discrete mathematics, combinatorics, logic, and computer science. The modules have been authored by an interdisciplinary team of mathematics and computer science faculty at New Mexico State University and Colorado State University at Pueblo. In the first session we will discuss the pedagogy behind our approach, give a brief outline of the compendium of projects, and provide initial hands-on participant work using four chosen projects. In the second session we will discuss the four projects in detail, lead group discussions, and offer more interactive activities. The projects we have developed so far, as well as our philosophy in teaching with historical sources, can be found on our homepage at http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/historical-projects/.

Minicourse #13: Taking symbols seriously: Teaching form and function in college algebra, organized by William G. McCallum, University of Arizona; Deborah Hughes Hallett, University of Arizona and Harvard University; and Pat Shure, University of Michigan. Part 1: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Part 2: Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. In this minicourse we will focus on the symbolic aspects of algebra, not the graphical or numerical aspects, giving participants a framework for developing symbolic literacy. We believe procedural fluency requires a foundation of conceptual understanding. We will help participants characterize the kind of understanding we would like to see in our students, and to design courses that promote such understanding. We will give participants the opportunity to construct questions that probe student understanding and to develop examples that demonstrate the importance of college algebra for later coursework in the physical and social sciences.

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