Write Angles

December 27, 2006

SEO Update

Filed under: Harry Potter,SEO,Squidoo — Damon @ 12:15 am

It’s been an interesting week. Search for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and you will see that Google has indexed (if that’s even the right word) 990,000 websites. I suspect that is some sort of a 5 day record. (If anyone at Google can confirm this please let me know.)

I am happy to report that my humble lens is at number 45!

The main thing I have done is post links to it from my other Harry Potter lenses and blogged about it. Squidoo seems to really help SEO. . .

December 21, 2006

SEO Experiment

Filed under: Harry Potter,SEO,Squidoo — Damon @ 9:13 pm

Yesterday, there were zero websites about  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”  Tomorrow there will be hundreds and in a week there will be thousands.

Right now every related website is “brand new” and has an “equal” chance to achieve good search engine results.  This presents the curious math teacher with an opportunity to see what it takes to get a web page on the top of a Google search.

So I created a website, appropriately titled, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Squidoo.  I’ve done a few things to help its SEO, which stands for search engine optimization…I think.  I have linked to it from my other Harry Potter lenses and at least two people have blogged about it.  (The other entry was written by Marti.)

Although traffic does not affect SEO, I have also told a number of friends and family and posted information on myspace and the Leaky Lounge.  (Traffic does help Squidoo’s internal LensRank.)

It will be interesting to see if these steps make any difference.  In the past posting at Squidoo has helped a lot with SEO.  Right now a Google search for “Harry Potter music” brings up my lens as the second site.

(Which is actually terrifying.)

August 16, 2006

Google’s Built in Calculator

Filed under: Calculators,Free Resources,Online Activities — Damon @ 2:33 pm

I just discovered, at Web 2.0 from Russia, that Google has a built in calculator!  Go to Google and search for sqrt(-4).  It even seems to give the correct answers, so far.  If you really wanted to search for documents containing sqrt(-4) then search for +sqrt(-4).  You can also do unit conversions and calculate currency exchange rates.

Here are instructions on correct syntax as well as another 3^2 examples.  Now I just need to figure out how to best use this feature in the classroom.

Note:  It doesn’t do as well with undefined terms such as 0/0 or 0^0.

Site Review: National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

This is an incredible site hiding behind a rather boring, scientific sounding name.

NLVM is an NSF supported project and is operated at Utah State University. They have created 100’s of interactive Java applets which can help students experience various concepts rather than simply takes notes. As they say on the Information Page: “Mathematics is not . . . a spectator sport.”

The activities are organized by grade level and category. The five categories include Number + Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis + Probability.

counterfeit-coins-small.jpgMy favorite involves a classic puzzle. You are given eight coins and a beam balance. You have to find the “counterfeit” coin knowing its weight is different than the others. You can use the balance twice and the computer even keeps track of wrong guesses. Of course I had to try all four difficulty levels!

Other activities include an Abacus, Mastermind, Fractals, etc.

There are also eModules and lesson plans at eNLVM. The site is also available in Spanish.

They have even included instructions on getting help if the Javascript is not working on your browser. I’ve seen MANY sites where something doesn’t work. This is the FIRST math site I’ve seen that offers to help you fix it. (I did manage to freeze up Firefox running 3 Java applets simultaneously in different tabs.)

Overall Grade = A+

August 14, 2006

Lists for Math Teachers and Other Educators

Filed under: Problogger,Reader Feedback,Writing Assignments — Damon @ 7:16 pm

Darren at Problogger periodically gives writing assignments to his readers. This week’s assignment is to create a list. I personally like lists because it is an easy way to organize information. Lists are also useful to readers since they can visually scan the list to see if there is anything interesting.

I actually have a number of lists I’m working on and others I’ve been thinking about. Some are specifically related to teaching math. Others relate to education in general. I’ve decided to let my readers, both of you, help me decide which ones to post first. So I’ve decided to list my lists.

The following are lists that might be useful for a math teacher, home-schooler, parent or student. After reading the list please leave a comment and tell me which items you would like to see first. Also let me know if you have a different idea for a list.

1. Free online resources for math teachers. Okay this one may be a little obvious and should, perhaps, be narrowed down a little.

2. Movies you can watch in math class. There are a lot of appropriate movies for other subjects. Why not math?

3. How to get an A in math.

4. Best SAT prep materials.

5. Online sources of downloadable busywork worksheets.

6. Best puzzle sites.

7. Math teacher blogs.

8. Best comprehensive sites for math teachers.

9. Top 10 Reasons to Learn Math, as written by incoming Juniors.

10. Ways to tell what your student or child was doing on the computer before you walked into the room.

So please leave your comments about what you would like to see in a math teacher blog. (I will definitely consider them before doing what I want to anyway.)

Site Maintenance

Filed under: Site Maintenance — Damon @ 4:28 am

I found a template I like at WordPress.com. I may hire a former student to create some different graphics for the header. So don’t be alarmed if it changes suddenly. You’re still at Mr. Hedman’s wonderful weblog.

I also transferred a number of posts from my earlier blogs. Everything dated earlier than August 13, 2006 came from one of the other blogs. I have also updated the post categories to make more sense.

However, I did not fix all of the links to refer back to this blog. (Transferring the posts took a lot longer than I expected.) So don’t be surprised if a link takes you to Bored of Education.

New School Year, New Blog

Filed under: Writing Math,Writing Project — Damon @ 12:10 am

This year our English teacher attended the Writing Project in Long Beach.  I foolishly offered to help teach writing in my math class.

This is a new area for me!

Since I will be making my students write, I thought it would be appropriate to write about my own experiences during the school year, hence the title this blog.

I will, of course, discuss other things related to teaching math and education in general.  I may also post the occasional humorous anecdote.

Feel free to post any comments or questions.

May 24, 2006

Deal or No Deal: Lucky Case Game

Filed under: Deal or No Deal,Math Videos,Puzzles/Games — Damon @ 6:50 pm

Yesterday I was showing students how to improve their odds at the Lucky Case Game. Today I realized they can’t play because they’re not old enough. Oops. You have to be 18.

So today I put a notice on the board forbidding them to play. (And they always read and comply with the notices on the board!) So if you are 18 or older continue reading to find out how to “beat the house” on the Lucky Case Game.

First of all, you should never use your cell phone to enter. They charge 99 cents per text message. You can enter 10 times online for free at Deal or No Deal.

About halfway through the show they display a bar graph showing the numbers that the rest of America is choosing. (Which is somewhat presumptuous–assuming that all of America is watching and entering the contest.) The key to improving your odds is in this bar graph. There is usually a number that is being chosen less often. I recommend waiting until you see this bar graph and then entering 10 times and choose the number(s) the “rest of America” is not picking.

Two things have to happen to win the 10,000 dollar prize. One, they have to pick the same number you choose. The probability of that happening is 1 out of 6. Two, they have to randomly select you out of the millions of people that chose that number. If ten million people chose that number the probability of picking you is 1 out of ten million. When these two probabilities are multiplied the final probability is 1 out of 60 million. If you pick the number that only 1 million people choose your odds become 1 out of 6 million. That’s 10 times more likely!

Okay I won’t be retiring in order to spend more time playing the lucky case game.

Update: I now have a Squidoo lens dedicated to Deal or No Deal.

May 22, 2006

Deal or No Deal in Math Class

Filed under: Deal or No Deal,Math Videos,Puzzles/Games — Damon @ 8:23 pm

Today we watched an episode of Deal or No Deal in my Algebra 2 class. It worked out really well.

First, I asked a student to explain the premise of the show. Each contestant chooses a briefcase from 26 possible cases being held by models. Each case contains a certain amount of money ranging from $0.01 to $1,000,000. But nobody knows how much is in the chosen case. The contestant then picks other cases to open. The amounts in these cases are revealed which narrows down the possible amounts in the first case. Throughout the show the “banker” offers the contestant a certain amount of money to “buy” the case back, and Howie Mandel asks the question: Deal or No Deal?

While they were watching I asked the students to come up with reasons why the contestant should take the deal and reasons why she shouldn’t. I also asked the students to state whether or not they would take the deal.

(I know now to clarify that I expect the reasons to be mathematical. . . Students said things like, “Because she is stupid.” One student even concluded that the low amounts of money are in the cases being held by the ugly models!)

Anyway, the show offers an introduction to a whole host of mathematical topics. The most obvious is simple probability. The chance of picking the million-dollar case is 1 out of 26. However, other probabilities change as the game progresses.

If low amounts are revealed when opening cases, the banker’s offer goes up. As higher amounts are revealed the offer goes down. So the contestant wants to reveal lower numbers. For every round students could calculate the probability that the next case opened will increase the offer.

Students could also try and predict the banker’s offer. This introduces the more complicated concept of expected value which is basically the average of the amounts left. As the game nears the end the banker’s offer is very close to the expected value for the remaining numbers.

The show is also an interesting glimpse into psychology. Even though Howie says the banker wants the contestant to take the offer, it is clear that the early offers are low and they want the game to continue. Students could discuss how they would factor psychology into their calculations.

Finally, I showed students how to greatly improve their odds on the Lucky Case Game. (But I will have to save that for a future blog entry.)

Overall, it was a lot of fun and the students really got into it.

Update: I now have a Squidoo lens dedicated to Deal or No Deal.

April 16, 2006

WASC Visit

Filed under: Accreditation — Damon @ 6:20 pm

I actually wrote this on Wednesday, March 29. I just forgot to post it.

It seems we passed our WASC accreditation evaluation. Today we heard the report from the visiting committee. They seem to have been very impressed by our school.

Some things they said:

The visiting committees always create a list of strengths for the schools. Our committee chairman said a typical school gets a list of 3 to 7 strengths. They listed 18. (I think it was 18. I stopped listening around 12… Teachers make the worst students.)

Some schools also do special lessons or events in order to impress the visiting committee. One of the members commented that he was impressed that we did not. It was apparent that we were just going about our normal business. (That’s not entirely true. I did tuck in my shirt. And we got cool new name tags that I intend to wear on dates. Just kidding.)

What seemed to impress them the most was the people at our school. The teachers actually talk to each other and seem to care about the students (I will deny this.) They also commented about how mature the students seem. (I have no idea where they got that impression.)

Anyway, it was good to hear good things about our school from objective visitors. I guess I’ll take my resume off of monster.com (Just kidding Ms. Martinez!).


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