Sunday, 10 November 2013

MAT: Creative Math Endeavours

Pic by Errol of Debs and Errol
Intro: Back in September, I signed up for "Explore MTBoS", an eight week event connecting math educators online. This is the fourth post connected to that event. If this is your first time on my blog, welcome! For the record, I post about writing in addition to math teaching. I also have a second blog, "Taylor's Polynomials", a story about personified math. Find it here:

This... well, last week's mission came from Julie Reulbach (@jreulbach). Yes, last week - I'm a week behind, but I have to do these in order. I'm a little Obsessive-Compulsive that way. It asked us to go audio, rather than written, by listening to an Infinite Tangents Podcast and/or a Global Math Dept Webinar.


If Week 3's mission was hard for me, this one was dead easy. As always, quick backstory, because I suck at short posts.

I love when people get creative and geeky on the internet. This is why I started watching "That Guy With The Glasses", an internet review site that has people who review everything from videos to comic books. It was even a bit of a toss up in July as to whether I'd go to ConBravo (to see Linkara again), or to Twitter Math Camp. Previously blogged about that.

What's the point here? Basically, I've been keen on "Infinite Tangents" since I first found out about it. Not just for the people Ashli talks to (though it's neat now that I've actually met a number of them), more for the idea and the execution. I've posted comments on the 8Tangents site, submitted audio clips (while forgetting my name), fired off a couple questions to her, contemplated answers to the six questions and just generally been a fan. Sometimes I've listened while drawing pictures for my own web serial.

I'll stop rambling now, but suffice to say, hearing Ashli talk about the origin of it all at TMC was a bit of a thrill.

Of course, marks were recently due, so I didn't get to her latest (with Lisa Henry) until this weekend, and didn't want to blog here until I did - that's why this post is late. The podcast didn't disappoint! So if you have an interest in either math, or teaching, or just creative endeavors (there's a Halloween special), you need to check that out! Seriously, why so few comments over there?!


As far as Global Math goes, they do sessions at 9pm ET on Tuesday (right after Agents of SHIELD). I've been an occasional attendee since back in late May 2013 (topic: math in various parts of the world), and as a late August goal I resolved to attend at least one session a month. I've held to that, admittedly without the "at least" aspect - I make it every four weeks or so.

A key issue here is that my laptop computer, running OSX 10.5.8, is not compatible with the Flash software upgrade needed for viewing. This means I need to use my wife's computer - which itself is not a problem, but does make for a few extra steps, and means I can't browse the archives so easily. I definitely managed to be online Sat. November 2nd though, for the Autumn Special!

My background. The math-tans were based off OS-tans.

Let me say that Nik Doran displayed a bit of a genius in setting it right in between the UK Time Change and the North American Time Change. This meant the time zone difference was only four hours, as opposed to the usual five. More UK love, Chris Smith was going to be speaking about his newsletter, so see my above remarks about geeky creativity for why this was a thrill on par with talking to Ashli. Chris is also a member of a band, which gives him extra credit in my books (the same way Ashli's latin does), so who knows how he finds time to teach.

Quick recap: Session started with David Wees, which is always a treat, who talked about questioning - some of it a recap from talks I'd heard, but not all of it. Then Chris spoke about his newsletter, which seems like a really good way to pitch yourself to a department. At least one person was there on account of seeing this session in his newsletter. Julie spoke about Explore MTBoS, and at least one person was at the session on account of this initiative. Kev spoke about how Excel could be used to generate seating plans with data, Hedge spoke about stats, and Justin spoke about Math Munch. If you hadn't guessed, it was a two hour special.

Let me just say, I was feeling pretty down last weekend. Partly due to what I'd previously blogged about November 1st, and partly due to circumstances that required my wife to leave the country for a bit. This Global Math session helped me to reconnect at a time when I didn't know I needed it. Definitely recommend it as something that's worth checking out.


"Twitter"een is Oct 31, when you "dress up" your Twitter avatar to be like someone else's avatar. For more information, read this post. I'm quirky, in that my avatar represents my web serial, because honestly I want people to be thinking about that more than they do me. So when I adapted it, I still wanted there to be a connection.

For the record, I participated last year, when I was just becoming aware of the MTBoS community. I'm not sure if Dan Allen (@AllenMath) is even aware of how I stole his avatar.

Dan's avatar in October 2013
My version, Oct 31 2012

This year, I went as Nik Doran, because my web serial is all about Fractals at the moment. I also figured others would go for the head shots more than the pure math (an assumption that turned out to be wrong).

Nik's avatar in October 2013
My version, Oct 31 2013

For the record, Hedge put together a yearbook and was playing around with voting, not sure what came of it.

And there you have it, creativity among teachers at it's finest! But you don't have to take my word for it - go check it out!


  1. Greg!

    I'm glad SOMEONE recognised my total intentional genius there.. :-) I super - glad you enjoyed the Autumn special - I'm hoping we will get regular seasonal specials going to try to avoid timezone issues. And I was super-super-glad you dressed up as me!

    Keep blogging buddy!


    1. Nik! You're making me wonder if it was truly intentional. ;) Either way, I do hope we can keep resolving timezones every so often. Reading some of the other posts off the "Explore" site made me realize just how global things are, and how tricky it can be to attend a session when it's 4am. Ah well -- I'll keep at it, and same back at you!