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Today’s blog post has been unforcefully taken over by famous (yes, famous) blogger Tyler Tarver.  He’s a math teacher, an Arkansan, father, husband, author and facial hair grower. And he still finds the time to crap out daily comedic genius on his blog tylertarver.com.  I’m actually a little annoyed with him, because his blog posts make me giggle like the little girl I am, ruining any chances I have at projecting a “tuff” exterior.  I blame my lack of street cred on him. Anyways, you should buy his book, “Words [& sentences]”.  I mean, I like it.

Reading Tarver's book..duh.

Seeing that he is a math teacher, he is automatically my hero. Wait, what did I say? I mean, I figured he should write about math. You know, help a sister out with some knowledge I can drop on my students.  So, here we are ladies and gents:

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Using Math in Real-Life

by Tyler Tarver



As a secondary math teacher, I hear the phrase “when will I ever use this in real-life” more than an ugly person hears they have a great personality. You’re a personality, MOM!

My top 2 answers:

•    I use it all the time.

•    On the test.

But it’s time, nay, it is time. See that. When I drop the contraction you know crap’s about to go down like the 2nd Rescuers Movie (the one with the rats or mice or whatever).

Here are some common situations when using in math in real-life saves lives, face, Ferris, and the last dance.

At the Club: When you’re making it rain on some girl, you don’t want to be using all your hundreds, cause then you can’t afford dem rims you be wantin to be ridin dirty spinnas. Calculate the time per seconds it takes for you to flick a dollar (dps) and divide the total seconds by that to find how many bills a playa gonna need. If you have to, just cash those dollars in for tokens at your neighborhood Chucky Cheese and make it hail on them [ladies].

Long paragraph, but vital. FYI: Making it rain means throwing money on chicks, respectfully.

Pirates of the Caribbean: There’s like 23 of them out there, how do you know what order to watch them if you don’t know numbers? I’ll tell you, blindfolded. That’s right, learn math, or walk through life blindfolded and pregnant. Hey, don’t blame me, you’re the one droppin Hamiltons at the club, shawty.

High-5s: No one wants to be that guy that throws up a high 3. The last guy that did that was Frank from 4th grade writing class. You know where he is now? Dead. Well, not dead, but he drives a PT Cruiser, so, potatoes/poe-tot-oes.

If the Matrix becomes Real: It’s more of a chance than you’d think. This one time I was totally in this room and this guy ran in and was all like “hey” and I was like “hey” and he said “Mr. Anderson?” and I said “Agent Smith” and then I was all like boom boom pshew pshew and he was like pop pop pow pow and then I made all that up but it’s okay cause you look really hot and you quit reading during the club paragraph.

Just drop out and get some abs and be on a reality show.

What’s your favorite number?

Tyler Tarver is more fun than the 3rd hour of Monopoly, but less entertaining than two shoes. You can check out his website tylertarver.com, subscribe to it here, check him on Twitter @tylertarver, or just buy his brand new toilet book which he won’t shutup about titled Words&Sentences that 4 people have said is “funnier than sliced bread.” He’s not as attractive as you, but he sure does love you.

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Harry Potter, butterflies and the debt crisis.

What do these things have in common?

Nothing. Sorry! like the board game. I tricked you.

But now that you are reading this, you might as well stay a while, right? (This is where you force a laugh, accept some of the expired cookies I offer you, and then stay to be polite.)

I thought it would be fun to do a post where I use math to describe some facets of my life.

Like I posted on my “new about me” and like I have seen on many blogs I read, y’all don’t like math that much. Sorry about the “y’all”. It just felt right.

So here we go…these are some graphs that I drew:

1. The exponential relationship between my responsibilities and productivity level.

2. The inverse relationship between my advanced math skills and basic math skills.

3. The hyperbolic relationship between my mental and physical health.

If you got to this point, you are my new best friend.

In other news…

I’m outta of school for a bit, which means a couple things: I have free time & I need to get ahead of the schedule on some responsibilities. So I need your help.

1) Give me your Netflix/Hulu show and movie recommendations.

AND/OR

2) I need to research ideas for a math workshop for middle/high school girls. Should be fun and rich in math content. (Stop laughing.) Any ideas?? (Past workshops featured Rubik’s Cube, Sudoku, origami, etc….and tied them in with math concepts.)

P.S. Thank you for all the teaching advice I received on my last post! You guys are the best. You’re the best around and nothing’s ever gonna bring you down.

This is a topic I have already covered here. But it turns out that there are many more ways to not approach a girl. You are probably thinking of some right now, so stop. Pay attention to me. Sorry for being so controlling. Can we be friends again?

Cool. Well here is a real life dialogue that existed between me and a member of the opposite sex yesterday.

I’m gonna preface this.

About a month ago, I was walking to the bus stop by the med school on campus to get a ride home.  As I approached the waiting area, I saw a guy wearing dark sunglasses.  He kinda looked like a dude I went to high school with but haven’t seen in years.  So of course, as I walked by him, I tried to catch a glimpse.  Awkwardly enough, as I passed him, he looked up.  He stared straight at me. Out of his mouth came words I did not expect to hear.

“How you doing?”

Really, Joey Tribbiani?

I was caught off guard. I sputtered out an indiscernible noise, contorted my face and kept walking until I reached the bench on the other side of the cement wall.  A minute later, his bus came by and as got on, he was staring me down. I felt scared for my life for like thirty seconds but then I got a text message.

Back to yesterday.

I am approaching the bus stop once again.  I see this same dude sitting at the bus stop bench.  At least I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy.  So in a completely non-over-reactive way, I decide to sit as far as possible. On wet grass. Under a tree.

Now I’m just sitting there playing on my cell phone. I am genuinely preoccupied trying to figure out my budget for the month. And playing Hanging with Friends. Whatever. Regardless, I thought I was safe.  But before I can even finish guessing a whole word, I look up and this dude is kneeling next to me. Words are coming out of his mouth.

I transcribed the whole thing for your reading pleasure:

Dude: How you doing? (It’s not at all weird to be talking to a preoccupied stranger.)

Me: Um. Fine. (Why are you talking to me?)

Dude: What college are you in?

Me: I’m a grad student.

Dude: You’re a grad student?

Me: Yup. (I know, I look like an 18 year old)

Dude: So what you are studying?

Me: Education.

Dude: That’s cool. What college is that?

Me: The colleges are only for undergrads. But I used to be in Sixth. (Since you seem so interested in the college system)

Dude: What’s that?

Me: Do you even go here? (Why are you on my campus?)

Dude: No. (Chick probably thinks I’m a doctor or something. Bonus points!)

Let me just point out that this whole time I am still looking at my phone.

Me: It’s right there. *Pointing to Sixth College* (You should go over there and look.)

Dude: That’s cool.

Me: Mmhmm. (Is it though?)

Dude: What do you study in that college?

Me: It doesn’t work like that*.

Dude: Ohh. So what did you major in?

My bus pulls up. Hallelujah, right? Wrong. Dude starts following me.

Dude: Soo…what did you study? (Second time’s the charm.)

Me: Math. (You are still here. That’s disappointing)

Dude: What is your favorite kind of math?

Me: Are you getting on this bus? (Please say no.)

Dude: Maybe.

Me: Do you even know where you are going? (I am genuinely worried for your mental stability.)

Dude: Do you like Algebra? (She’s gonna think I’m so smart.)

Me: I like Geometry. (I prefer Real Analysis, but I don’t want to embarrass you more than you are already embarrassing yourself.)

Dude: Here’s an equation for you.

Me: (Oh God)**

I am now getting on the bus and searching for a seat. And yes. He is now on the bus too.

Dude: What’s “You + Me”? (Nailed it.)

Me: Not happening. (Perfect exit question. Thank you.)

I keep walking, and find a seat on the back of the bus, avoiding looking at him the best I can. He sits a couple seats ahead of me.  When he gets off (at the next stop. yup.) he shouts “Goodbye and good luck” at me.  You can keep your luck. Apply it toward life skills.

Who lets boys use these pick-up lines? Who taught taught them these things? Have they ever spoken to a female before?

I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.

However, it does prove the claim I made in class today:

My contribution to class.

*UCSD’s undergrad is broken up into six colleges.  They are not major specific. They just have different themes. It’s like Hogwarts.

**Is it bad that for a split second I thought he would actually give me a math problem and I got a little bit excited? Only for a split second. I promise.

On a lighter note, look at this. I’m pretty sure it’s a Furby.

What are some of the worst pick up lines you have heard? And/or do you have any advice for this dude? Your thoughts – give them to me.

  1. Osama bin Killed*
  2. Proof that I’m a nerd: my new pastime is answering math questions on Yahoo Answers.
  3. New favorite album/s: Man on the Moon (parts one and duex) by Kid Cudi
  4. Current procrastination technique, #2 + #3 at the same time. (Listening to the Cudder makes me feel like I can answer any question.)
  5. I need to figure out a stage name for when I am a professional rapper. My friend J-Con provided me with some choices, and I have narrowed it down to two: Triggernometry and Decimillionare.
  6. Worst fruit to take in your purse/backpack is a banana. (Currently working on a comprehensive list of the best and worst fruits for traveling.)
  7.  OG = Original German, according to one of the kids I tutor. As in, “Mr. B is an OG”.
  8. 8 times 8 dropped on the floor, picked it up and it was 64. You’re welcome.
  9. 9 is dead. Seven ate nine.
  10. Good news: I have had a basil plant named George for exactly one week now, and he is still alive. Which is a first. I said “Don’t make me regret naming you and developing an unhealthy attachment.” I think it worked. That and sunlight + water. Who knew?

*stole this from my little brother…he’s a lot smarter and taller than me.

Here’s a photo I found on the world wide web:

First of all, it’s a graduate school named Graduate School.

Question: Read #5. Which name is better?

This is an informal essay I had to write for my class. I know, I know…it’s school crap, but I love you.
Part of the reason I decided to keep up this blog is to practicing writing stuff that other people might actually want to read. Luckily, this class I’m in has the same goal.  So I’m just test-driving essay, if you will. And if you won’t.

So if you wanna be a dear (a nice person, not the animal…you can’t be the animal), then read this. If you actually made it to end without dying of boredom, let me know in the comments. I’ll also be accepting constructive criticism and flattery.

1. Eww, I hate math

When you’re in college, most introductions begin with the question “What is your major?”.  Apart from the obvious majors, like accounting, this is typically followed by “And what do you want to do with that?”.  As a math major, this conversation usually* plays out like this:

Potential Friend (PF): “So, what are you majoring in?”
Me: “Oh, I’m a math major”
The PF cringes and/or looks confused, both responses triggered by bad memories of high school math.
PF: “Eww, I hate math. But cool…what do you want to do with that?”
Me: “I want to be a teacher.”
PF: “Like a professor?”
Me: “No, either middle school or high school.”
PF: “Hmm…well, good luck with that.  I hear they need good math teachers”

However, my decision to major in mathematics is not because of the “job security” (which is debatable). It simply comes from my love of math.  And the reason I emphasized in education is because I want others to love math, too. Realistically, I can settle for helping others to not hate it.

2. It’s kind of like a puzzle

It is the reason that preschoolers are drawn to jig-saw puzzles, that eighth graders try to figure out the best “first move” in tic-tac-toe, and that your grandma plays sudoku.  Our brains enjoy the challenge of using logic to arrive at an answer.

It has rules to follow and boundaries to work within, but math also requires your creativity. You have to study the problem, figure out what it is asking and choose how to solve it.  There are many roads you can take, but as long as you play by the rules, they all arrive at one destination.  It’s kind of like a puzzle.

3. Plug and Chug

“There are two ways to write an equation for a line. Copy them down and we’ll do some examples.”  Kenny and Francisco are sleeping. Zaydrian is using a bent-out paperclip to pick at the lint caught in his comb. Dulce is decorating a note she wrote to her friend with a pink highlighter, and Manny is practicing the art of one-handed concealed text-messaging. The other twenty students are either talking or staring into space, eyes glazed over and minds elsewhere. The teacher’s monotone voice and frequent glances at the clock suggest that even she is bored with the lesson.

Somewhere between fifth grade and eighth grade, math is reduced to algorithms and memorization.  “Do each problem the way it is done in the book. Just plug in different numbers.”

This is the math that people hate. It doesn’t make sense and it’s boring.  Students have become disengaged and detached from the process of learning.

4. Dimes and Quarters

One way to keep the process of learning alive is to take advantage of the natural curiosity to solve. It’s about posing a problem that makes a student say: “Hmmm” and then actually think. This is called “intellectual necessitation”.

At its worst, “necessitating” gets the student to use their natural mathematical intuition.  At its best, it creates an intrinsic desire to connect this intuition with formal mathematics.

For example, I might tell you that I have $1.55.  It’s made of eleven different coins, but they are only dimes and quarters.  Can you figure out how many of each I have?

You may start coming up with different combinations of quarters and dimes, testing them out until you find that I must have three quarters and eight dimes***. Okay, great. But then some rich dude comes along.  He may just be bragging, but he says he has 30 bills in his wallet, totaling $255. And they are all Lincolns and Jacksons. How many of each does he have?

This problem is harder and the combinations will take you much longer.  Plus, this guy is big and intimidating. You need a better, or more efficient, way to solve this problem.

Let’s call the number of five dollar bills “x” and the number of twenties “y”.
We know “x + y = 30” because that’s the total number of bills. And we also know that “5 times x” is how much cash he has in five dollar bills, and “20 times y” is how much he has in twenties.
Put them together, and we know that “5x + 20y =255”.

Boom. We have a system of equations. With a little bit of help from Mr. Algebra or Mrs. Geometry****, we can easily solve for x and y . And maybe the rich guy will be so impressed, he’ll give us some money. (This would be called “extrinsic motivation” and it is sometimes necessary.  I like to use candy and/or baked goods.)

5. Math is a tool..in a good way

Everybody has a mathematical intuition. You can conceive of problems involving multiple variables and constraints whether or not you can write a system of equations.  The numbers and symbols that have come to represent math are simply tools for communicating this intuition.  These tools allow us to be efficient in our daily lives and the study of the world.

Effective math education means engaging this intuition first, and then generously providing students with the tools they need to express and deepen their knowledge. And with luck, become a mathlete (math + athlete).

* By “usually”, I mean about 85% of the time, according to my calculations**.  

** By calculations, I mean “guesstimate”. I don’t go around calculating things.

*** This is called the “brute force” method, and it’s possible when you are dealing with relatively small numbers.  However, the purpose of formal mathematics is to provide you with the tools to bypass this hard labor.  It’s the equivalent of cutting your lawn with safety scissors when you could be using a riding lawn mover with a built-in stereo and a cup-holder for your ice tea.

****This “story” about money, combined with a geometric interpretation (solving for “y”, graphing these two equations and finding where they intersect) and an algebraic interpretation (solving for x and y using multiplication/division and addition/subtraction of the equations) is an example of using the “Physical, Geometric and Algebraic (PGA)” method of teaching math.  


P.S. Anybody else catch this on Glee last week?

It has most definitely been a rough week in the geometry class I am (attempting) to teach in.

3 Trigonometry Ratios + 2 Special Right Triangles + 35 Unmotivated Students + 1 Student Teacher  = 1 Short Lived Episode of Depression + 1 Decision To Try Harder

Here’s a break down of this weeks Wins and Losses:

Wins:

  • “Warm Up” lesson inspired by Awkward Family Photos (feel free to steal this gem)
  • Not having a mental breakdown in front of the class
  • Tutoring a couple students until they reached that “ah-ha, this is easy” moment
  • Multicultural fair that made class on Wednesday 5 minutes shorter
  • Third period doesn’t meet on Thursdays

Losses:

  • Futility of trying to make Warm Up fun/funny/noticeable
  • Developing teacher voice that sounds like a cross between Victoria “Gonna Have a Baby” and your mom.
  • Short term memory loss of the students who “got it” the day before
  • Got called “brazy”
  • Looked up “brazy” on UrbanDictionary.com
  • Students demanding cookies in exchange for learning
  • Multicultural Fair exposed fledgling social skills (I’m not a girl student, not yet a woman teacher)

Hopefully tomorrow will end the week on a brighter note. Made “Jeopardy” activity to review for test and bought two bags of candy to coerce participation. You do what you gotta do on Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday. Fun fun fun, yeah.

Read a book for my education studies class called Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by their Brains.  At this point, I’m well on my way towards writing a book called Teaching Outside the Cafeteria: How to Grab Your Students by their Stomachs.

Honestly, what did you expect?

I know I’m not a teacher yet, but I’m around students, mostly freshman, enough to know they have a way with words.  I basically laugh at everything they say (no, you’re easily amused).  While most of what they say is just dumb, (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) there are a few gems worth sharing with the world. And by “the world” I mean the three viewers I average per day.

Here we go:

(While teaching a lesson on the golden ratio in art and nature):
Me: “You know how some things, like the Mona Lisa, seem beautiful but we don’t know why?
Girl: “Ohh, like Justin Bieber?”

Teacher: “Okay, can anybody tell me what four squared is?”
Girl: (under her breath) “It’s a game you play at recess with a bouncy ball”

(On a rainy day)
Girl: (at a boy) “Ughh, you stepped on my shoes!”
Boy: “Well, you’re wearing white shoes on a rainy day. That’s like the worst thing you could ever do in life.”

Girl: (to geometry teacher) “I have a question. Why do girls like you? Like, not as a teacher. But as a person?”

Algebra Teacher: “Okay, for your homework, you need to solve for x in all three ways: factoring, completing the square, and the quadratic formula”
Boy: “Oh, she fancy. She thinks she reeeal fancy”

Okay, whatever, you had to be there.
Here’s a picture to make up for it up: