MShare Your M.A.T.H. Tips: Vol. 1


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Information Overload

Let’s face it – we’re all human and we like our information “just-in-time”.  At McGraw-Hill Math, we recognize that there’s a lot more going on in your lives than textbooks and technology, and we want to help!

We’re launching a new series of Math Advice for Teaching in Highered, for profs by profs (otherwise known as M.A.T.H. Tips).  The  goal?  To share best practices and lessons learned at just the right time during the semester, so that things go smoother and you keep your sanity. 

We’d also like to hear from you! Send us your favorite brief tips, videos (external or your own), links, and resources that will inspire and be part of future issues… Join the journey!

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8 Essentials for the Start of the Semester

  1. It’s on the SYLLABUS! Send a welcome email to your students a day or two before your class meets. Include items that they should bring to class on the first day and attach a PDF copy of the syllabus.
  2. Get to know your students: On the first day when taking role, ask students to say their name and answer questions like “what is your favorite TV series” or “what’s the last concert you attended”.
  3. Registration tip: if using an online homework system that requires students to register themselves, remind them to sign up using the First and Last Name as it appears on their ID or on your roster. This helps when downloading and syncing gradebooks.
  4. Share Trial Access: Not all students receive financial aid right away, and some are too embarrassed to admit they have it. Announce any trial period offers for books or software used. Send a follow up email and post an announcement in your LMS.
  5. No show outreach: Email any student who didn’t show up on the first day with a gentle reminder that they signed up for your class. Sometimes they went to the wrong classroom and sometimes they are just not back from break.
  6. Syllabus check: After the first few weeks of class, send a check-in email, or post to the class discussion board asking if anyone has questions about grading or course assignments. This catches anyone who might have joined the class late and those who might have questions once the semester gets started.
  7. Level Up: List the tech specs for any software used in class in your LMS. Make note of technology that is not supported (tablets, linux, etc.) and recommended browsers. Check with your IT dept. for other campus-specific suggestions for on-campus labs.
  8. Hello? Realistic response rates: Add an email protocol section to your syllabus.  Detail how you prefer students to address you, what to put in the subject line, and your response time.  Making these expectations clear from day one and reinforcing them keeps communication flowing and complaints down!

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Watch Me! Featured Video

It’s not the math itself that we hate, it’s that we hate that we don’t know it!” A reminder that the Arabic origin and the translation for the word Algebra is to restore and to rebalance. Help your students with math anxiety and watch the TED Talk: How to conquer math anxiety by Robert Ahdoot. Anxiety + fear = no math. Laughter + fun = his free online resource YAY math.

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Dennis Fox, Personal Theories of Teaching, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 8, No 2, 152.

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Doug Roher and Kelli Taylor, The Effects of Overlearning and Distributed Practise on the Retention of Mathematics Knowledge. Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol 20