EMAT 3500
Exploring Concepts (with Technology) in Secondary School Mathematics
Fall 2005


 Dr. John Olive


 105F, Aderhold 


 706 - 542 - 4557



Assistant: Jaehong Shin < jhshin@uga.edu >

Office Hours | Syllabus | Outline | Students | Assignments | Links

Office Hours :

 Dr. Olive (room 105 F)

Tuesdays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Thursdays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

.....Or by appointment

....or drop in if I'm in my office.


We shall be using LiveText as a vehicle for you to create your electronic portfolios of specific assignments in this course. Initially, all assignments should be created electronically and emailed to me as an attachment.  Please use the following file name format for each assignment: <first initial><last name><assignment #>.<file type>.  For example, my reaction paper for assignment #2, created using Microsoft Word, would have the file name: jolive2.doc

Click on a number in the following table to go to that assignment.

These will be updated periodically
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20


Final Project

#1 . Prepare for next class discussion on August 23 (portfolio)

Visit the NCTM web site at www.nctm.org and find the electronic version of the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics . Read through all of the Principles and study the overview of the curriculum standards for both middle grades and high school. Explore the electronic examples for both middle and high school algebra. Choose one example to respond to the "take time to reflect" questions and write up your responses to share with the rest of your class (to be included in your portfolio).

Due: 8/23

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#2. Investigate the Georgia Performance Standards (10 points)

Go to the web site for the new Georgia Performance Standards. Find the mathematics standards that relate to the goals of this course.

Match the topics in the outline of the course with an appropriate GPS. Email your list to me and save these matched items in your electronic portfolio.

Due: 8/25

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#3. Research on the NCTM Standards: (portfolio)

Read Chapter 2 from A Research Companion to Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Write a one-page response to the oft asked question: "Does research support the NCTM recommendations for curriculum reform?"

Due: 8/30

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#4. Reflecting on Your Experiences with Mathematics Teachers: (portfolio)

You have been a mathematics student for most of your life! You have experienced many different teachers who taught you mathematics. These experiences have very likely influenced how you think about "mathematics teaching," and these can even affect the ways that you will behave as a beginning mathematics teacher. It can be important to reflect upon these past experiences, to take stock of some possible influences upon you and how you want to teach.

A. Make a short list (3-5; use initials or a pseudonym or code) of your "favorite" teachers of mathematics. For each, briefly tell why they are a "favorite." Think about them as "persons," and list any attributes that might have led you see them as a "favorite." Think about them as "teachers," and list attributes that mattered to you. Think about them in the act of teaching mathematics, and list things about their teaching that you admired.

B. Make a short list (3-5) of your "least favorite" teachers of mathematics. For each, briefly tell why you see them this way. Think about them as "persons," and list any attributes that might have led you to see them this way. Think about them as "teachers," and list attributes that led you to see them this way. Think about them in the act of teaching mathematics, and list things about their teaching that you disliked.

C. Think about the kind of mathematics teacher you want to be. List the positive attributes that would describe you, as a "person" and as a "teacher." Think about yourself in the act of teaching your mathematics students. List a few of the most important characteristics that might describe your teaching.

Due: 9/01

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#5. Relational and Instrumental Understanding (portfolio)

Read the article by Richard Skemp on Instrumental and Relational Understanding.  Identify 3 main points that Skemp makes about the nature of mathematical understanding. Then reflect on your responses to assignment #4. Briefly describe how you were taught and how you learned mathematics (instrumentally and/or relationally).  (2-3 pages).  

Due: 9/06

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#6. Composition of Functions Investigation (10pts) LiveText

Using the GSP Dynagraphs sketch, investigate the 8 mystery functions. Create three functions of your own, each of which belongs to a different family (e.g, step, quadratic, and trigonometric) and investigate the composition of your three functions. (A sketch showing compositions of several functions can be found here.)  Write-up your investigations, highlighting any interesting or surprizing characteristics you discovered for your particular composition (1-2 pages). Submit your GSP sketch along with your write-up via LiveText. The following description of a "write-up" is adapted from Dr. Jim Wilson.

The "write-ups" for EMAT 3500 represent your synthesis and presentation of a mathematics investigation you have done -- usually under the direction of one of the assignments. The major point is that it convincingly communicates what you have found to be important from the investigation.

The hypothetical audience might be your students, your classmates, or classroom mathematics teachers. You should present your topic in a reasonable amount of space, emphasizing the essential and eliminating the irrelevant (though sometimes interesting) side issues.

Due: 9/13

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#7. Reflection on Dynagraphs (portfolio) LiveText

Dynagraphs were very probably a new way of representing and playing with functions for you.  In what ways did they enhance your own concepts and ideas about functions?  Would you use these dynamic representations with your students?  Why or why not? (1-2 pages)

Due: 9/20

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#8. Reading and Reflection (portfolio)

Chazan, D. (1999). On teachers' mathematical knowledge and student exploration: a personal story about teaching a technologically supported approach to school algebra. International Journal for Mathematics Learning, 4: 121-149.

Reflect on how the author's approach to teaching algebra was influenced by the use of technology. Think about the role of function in the two different approaches. How might the use of GSP enhance the functions approach? Be prepared to discuss your ideas in class.

There is at least one mathematical error in this paper. See if you can find it.

Due: 9/22

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#9. Dynamic Transformations of the Quadratic Function (10pts) LiveText

Complete the Challenges on page 96 of Transforming Mathematics with the Geometer's Sketchpad and turn in a completed GSP sketch via LiveText. An extra 5 points will be possible for successfully completing the Extra Challenge.

Due: 9/27

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#10. Review of the NCTM Algebra Standards (portfolio) LiveText

Review the Algebra Standards for grades 6-12 in the NCTM Principles and Standards. Write a 1-2 page report on the approach to Functions taken in the Standards document.

Due: 10/04

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#11. Sorting Functions (10pts)

Sort the 28 function cards into a 7 x 4 array based on the four different kinds of representations (graph, data table, algebraic expression and verbal description) and seven distinct categories of functions that you must determine. Each function CATEGORY will have an example from each of the four different representations (but each representation will be of a different function in that category). Label each function category. Turn in a 7x4 table with rows and columns labelled appropriately and the NUMBERS of the appropriate function cards in each of the 28 cells (one card per cell). Write a one-page explanation for how you determined your seven function categories and the placement of the cards.
This activity is adapted from Cooney, T. (1996). Developing a topic across the curriculum: Functions . In Cooney, T. J., et. al. (Eds.), Mathematics, Pedagogy, and Secondary Teacher Education. (pp. 27-43). Portsmouth, VA: Heinemann.

Due: 10/06

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Mid-Term Exam on Functions : 10/13 (60pts)

#12. Reflections on your visit to GCTM Annual Meeting at Rock Eagle (10pts) LiveText

Identify sessions on Mathematical Modeling and/or Functions using technology and attend as many as you can. Write a 2-page reflection on one of these sessions, indicating the most important things you learned from it.

Due: 10/25

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#13. Data Investigations (10pts)

Complete the Explore More activities from the first two activities from Unit 1 of Exploring Algebra 1 with Fathom (Measures of Center & Spread and Shape - Dice). Click here to download the Fathom file for the first activity (Airplanes.ftm). When you have completed the Explore More activity with this Fathom file, resave it as <your_name_#13.ftm> and email it to me. Also save your Dice activity fathom file as <your_name_#13dice.ftm> and also email it to me.

Due: 11/03

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#14. Linear Modeling (10pts)

Complete the activities from Unit 2 of Exploring Algebra 1 with Fathom

Click here to download the Fathom file for this activity (Oxygen.ftm)

Email your Fathom files as <your_name#14.ftm> and complete the Feedback form.

Due 11/08

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#15. Laboratory Preparation (Portfolio)

Click here for a list of the labs.

For Tuesday 11/15 - Discuss with your group how you intend to conduct your lab activity. Make a list of needed equipment and make plans to obtain the equipment (some equipment is avaiable from our Departmental closets). Come to class with equipment and instructions for your group's lab activity. Set up your lab activity before the beginning of class.

Due: 11/15

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#16. Approximating Best Fit Lines ~ (10pts)

This assignment is a follow up from our class discussion/activities. Using your Pennies set of data and the line of best fit that you approximated with Fathom or GSP, calculate the signed deviation (Collected - Predicted) and absolute deviation |Collected - Predicted| of each collected data point from the predicted value given by the line of best fit.  Use the table below as a guide to calculate the different measures of error in your data.

Collected Data

Independent Values


Dependent Values


Predicted Data

Dependent Values
(using your suggested best fit line)


Signed Error:

Sum of Signed Deviations

(Collected dependent - Predicted) 


Absolute Error:

Sum of Absolute Deviations

|Collected dependent - Predicted| 

Squared Error:

Sum of Squared Deviations

(Collected dependent - Predicted)^2 


The more interesting part of this assignment lies in thinking about what these error values tell us about the 'best fit line." How can we know if we have chosen the best fit line? Which is a better predictor, the signed error, the absolute error, or the sum of the squared deviations?  The following is a sketch that I created; it could be helpful in facilitating your thinking.  Click here for the gsp sketch.

Write a brief explanation (with examples) for why you would choose to use one of the following methods for calculating the best line of fit for your data: signed deviations, absolute deviations, squared deviations.

Due: 11/22

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#17.  Group and Individual Reports from all 5 Labs (20 points)

Each group will be responsible for collating the data collected by individuals that participated in their lab and using this data to present a report of the findings from their lab (10 points). Each individual will turn in their own results for each of the 5 labs and provide these results to the appropriate group along with a brief (paragraph) conclusion they made from the results for each lab (2 points for each lab).

Due: 11/22

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#18. Reaction Paper on Data and Statistics (Portfolio) LiveText

Write a rationale for including (or not including) statistics in 6-12 mathematics curriculum. You may use the NCTM Principals and Standards and what you have learned from the class materials, along with your beliefs and experiences to support your rationale... please cite your sources.  Consider your audience to be a school board.

Suggested length: 2 pages

Due 12/06

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#19. The Biggest Box Problem (10 pts)

Construct a working GSP sketch for the biggest box problem. Your sketch should include a square with variable squares cut from each corner to form the template of your box. You should link the varying size of these squares to a calculation for the volume and plot the size of cut out square (x) against volume (y) in your sketch. Derive an algebraic solution for the size of the cut-out square (as a fraction of the side-length of your square) that gives you the maximum volume. Click here to download a sophisticated GSP sketch that illustrates the problem (do not use this sketch for your assignment).

Due: 12/01

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#20. The View-Tube with GSP (10 pts)

Construct a working GSP sketch that represents the variables in the View-Tube experiment: Length of tube, diameter of tube, distance of tube from the screen, height of viewable portion of the screen. Use height of viewable portion of the screen as your DEPENDANT variable and plot this against each of the other variables. Derive functions for each of these relations. Copy your construction onto three pages in your GSP document and plot one function on each page, using the data generated by your sketch. Check that your functions match your data plots. Click here to download a starter GSP sketch for the view tube problem with 3 pages already created.

Due: 12/08

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#21. Reflection and Feedback on EMAT 3500 (evaluation form)

Your assignment is to complete the evaluation form that can be downloaded as a MS Word document from the above link. You can type on the form and then print it out. This will be completely anonymous. Jaehong will collect the forms and cross your name off his list as you place it in the envelope before the presentations of your Final Project on your Final Exam morning. This is your chance to reflect on YOUR contribution to EMAT 3500, the effort you put into it, the results you got out of it, how it was taught, offer suggestions, point out assignments, technologies or readings that were helpful to you, say something nice, be critical etc... Your feedback is very valuable to us and to this department!!

Due: Final Exam Day

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Final Project (60pts) LiveText

Click here for details on this final assignment

Due: 5:00 p.m. on Monday 12/12 (Final Exam Week)

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