EMAT 3500
Exploring Concepts (with Technology) in Secondary School Mathematics
Spring 2006


 Dr. John Olive


 105F, Aderhold 


 706 - 542 - 4557



Assistants: Jaehong Shin < jhshin@uga.edu > & Hyeonmi Lee <hmdoban@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. All assignments should be created electronically and posted to your LiveText portfolio.  Please use the following file name format for each assignment: <first initial><last name><assignment #>.<file type>.  For example, my reflection paper for assignment #1, created using Microsoft Word, would have the file name: jolive1.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 January 12 (LiveText 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: 01/12

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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. Save these matched items in your LiveText electronic portfolio.

Due: 01/17

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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: 01/24

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#4. Reflecting on Your Experiences with Mathematics Teachers: (10 points)

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: 01/26

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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: 01/31

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#6. Composition of Functions Investigation (15pts)

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 surprising 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: 02/07

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#7. Reflection on Dynagraphs (portfolio)

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: 02/14

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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: 02/16

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#9. Dynamic Transformations of the Quadratic Function (15pts)

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: 02/21

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

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: 02/28

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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: 03/02

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Mid-Term Exam on Functions : 03/09 (60pts)

#12. Laboratory Preparation (Portfolio)

Click here for a list of the labs.

For Thursday 03/23 - 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 available 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: 03/23

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#13. Lab Reports from all 3 Labs (10 points)

Each individual will turn in their own results for each of the 3 labs and provide these results to the appropriate group along with a brief (paragraph) conclusion they made from the group results for each lab.

Due: 03/28

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#14. 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. Post your paper and any example files to your LivetText portfolio.

Due: 03/30

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#15. Data Investigations (10pts)

We shall be using activities from Unit 6 of a new curriculum resource being developed by Key Curriculum Press called Exploring Algebra 1 with Fathom.

Complete activity 6.2: Factored Form Quadratic—Gravity.
Respond to the Q1-Q9 investigations and the Explore More questions. Upload your completed Fathom file to your LiveText portfolio.  Fill out a Feedback Form and hand in at class.

Due: 04/06

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#16. Modeling Probability (10pts)

We shall be using activities from Unit 7 of a new curriculum resource being developed by Key Curriculum Press called Exploring Algebra 1 with Fathom.

Complete the "Geometry by Probability -- Monte Carlo Methods" activity 7.4 from Exploring Algebra 1 with Fathom.
Answer all questions Q1-Q10 in a text box as part of your Fathom file.

After creating the scatter plot of y against x you can show the shaded points by dragging your attribute Shaded into the middle of the scatter plot.  You should see the quarter-circle area in blue.

For step 5 of the activity and Q10, please create a new attribute (area_above) for the area above the parabola using your existing x and y attributes. Create a separate x-y scatter plot and summary table using this new attribute. Drag your area_above attribute into the middle of this new scatter plot.  You should see the area above the parabola in blue.

Instead of the Explore More questions, try the following for an extra point:
Create a slider and label it a. Set a to 1.00 to start and use a to edit the function for the parabola: y=a(x-2.5)^2
Double click on the slider and set its lower limit to 0.5 and its upper limit to 1.5.
Plot the function y=a(x-2.5)^2 on your new scatter plot.  Adjust the value of a using your slider until your function plot passes through the upper two corners of your square region (points 0,5 and 5,5).

Now edit your area_above formula to also use a so that the area is the area above your new function plot.
What do you notice about the proportion of the area of the square that is above this new parabola?!!

Due 04/13


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#17.  Reaction Paper on Data and Statistics (Portfolio)

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 04/18


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#18. 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). Post your GSP sketch with explanations to your LiveText portfolio.

Due: 04/25

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#19. 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. Submit your completed GSP sketches to your LivetText Portfolio.

Due: 04/27

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#20. 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, May 4

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Final Project (60pts)

Click here for details on this final assignment

Post first draft by 5:00 p.m. on Monday May 1 (Final Exam Week)
Presentation on Final Exam Day, Thursday May 4 at 8:00 a.m.

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