M.A.T.H. Tips: Vol. 21

Email Protocol Tips to Share with Students

In the rush to start the semester we often focus on the learning aspects of the course, getting students into the homework system, and making sure everyone has the correct book or calculator.  But other aspects of the course are important for making sure we as educators are set up for success for the rest of the semester. One aspect of this is training our students to use email appropriately. Knowing who, why and the reasons a student is emailing improves our ability to answer quickly and effectively.  Here are a few rules you can use with your students:

  1. All emails must contain the course name and the day and time the course meets in the subject line.
  2. If students have a question about a problem, they must reference the specific problem number or include a screenshot of the problem as well as a screenshot of their work.
  3. All emails must include the student’s name as it appears on the roster.

Inside Higher Ed has a great article on email protocol you can share with your students https://bit.ly/1CRI4Hu

Also, don’t forget to include in your syllabus your communication boundaries! Letting students know how long it will take to respond and when you will respond prevents multiple emails seeking a response ASAP.   This is especially important in online classes where students are often working at odd hours. Letting online students know when you will also likely be online helps facilitate communication.

Additionally, if you are using an online discussion board be sure to include a list of appropriate questions to be emailed, such as questions about student grades.  Students can be directed to post general course questions and homework questions to the discussion forum.   Providing students with clear directions on where and when they can seek information cuts down on the number of duplicate emails all asking the same questions.

Faculty-Approved Student Web Resources

We know that students like to use the internet for help with their homework and alternative explanations of course material.  Since the internet is filled with good and bad mathematical explanations and examples, students don’t usually know where to go for the most effective and correct help.   To help you help your students we did some of the heavy lifting and reviewed several sites so you can provide students with quality resources they can use to supplement their learning.

  • Math TV hosts reviews and video lessons on topics from basic math to calculus. Students can search videos by topic and by textbook. https://www.mathtv.com/
  • Virtual Nerd offers free video lessons on topics ranging from basic math to algebra and geometry, each lesson includes a printable video summary. http://virtualnerd.com/
  • The Organic Chemistry Tutor has an algebra playlist that covers the most common algebra sticking points, and includes practice problems and worked solutions. https://bit.ly/2IFjPb8
  • Texas Instruments provides free tutorials for their most commonly used graphing calculators. https://bit.ly/2x2oCC6
  • The Desmos online graphing calculator is a good resource for students waiting to purchase a graphing calculator. https://www.desmos.com/
  • That Quiz allows students to practice mathematical drills by creating their own quizzes. Students can choose the number and type of question and even set a timer. https://www.thatquiz.org/

Math Travel Sites Around the World

Mathematical travel: Virtually!

One of the beautiful and perhaps underappreciated aspects of mathematics is its appearance in subtle ways throughout our world.  Most people are aware that the nautilus shell forms a logarithmic spiral and that the golden ratio underlies the structure of the pantheon. But how many people know that the amazing Mediterranean and Arabic tile work patterns are tessellations and can be modeled as patterns of translations?  For inspiration head over to the website https://bit.ly/2x3fb5b  the author catalogs mathematically interesting sites around the world

The Notebook: a Student’s Best Friend

We all know that if students are organized and keep a notebook it, can really help ease anxiety for quizzes and exams. Assigning a small part of your grade to a notebook can really help in this regard. We all know students rarely do optional work; so if you’re not grading it, they’re probably not doing it.

Here are a few strategies to help them out:

  • Discuss a notebook with students on day one. Don’t assume they know or have used on in the past.  Share an example. If you think a loose-leaf binder is best, say that. If you prefer a spiral notebook and folder, say that.
  • Students who prefer to keep notes on tablet or laptop can provide electronic evidence through screen shots, a USB, a shared file or folder, etc.
  • Provide a Table of Contents to help them understand what should be in there, syllabus, specific handouts, notes, and homework.
  • Make the notebook grade attach to Notebook quizzes. Meaning they take a quiz with notebooks allowed. They will learn quickly that an organized, complete notebook leads to a better grade.
  • Provide students with a template for taking notes from their online homework or learning system. They take notes in class, they need to take notes when having class with themselves online. For online classes, they can post a photo or scan of the notebook pages completed.
  • In a face to face class collect notebooks on test days. Have a specific rubric of 5 things you are looking for scored 1 point each, with 5 points total for the test coming from the notebook. Use this as extra credit or as part of the test grade. For example, for Test One: 1 point for the syllabus, 1 point for class notes for ____date, 1 point for Homework for ____ date, 1 point for list of tutoring hours, 1 point for handout #___.

The notebook does not need to be worth a lot of points to make a big impact.

A couple carefully planned opportunities to reward students for good organization go a long way in increasing their confidence and success on quiz and test days!

Top Five Math Career Tips

Are you or someone you know thinking about a position outside of academia?  Searching for a corporate position requires diligence and a bit of leg work. It is not always obvious how academic skills translate to the business world. On top of that most industries have their own jargon and job positions can have entirely different names at different companies.  It can take a bit of leg-work to identify the positions that best fits your interests and skill set.   To help you get started we listed our top five career tips for starting the job hunt.

  1. Signup for career websites and mailing lists in industries of interest.  Create a LinkedIn profile with up-to-date information and skills. If you have a blog or website connect it to your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Double check your social media privacy settings. Google yourself and check out what other see when they search your name.
  3. Create a one to two-page resume highlighting your skills. You will often need more than one resume targeted to different industries.
  4. Use job postings to identify keywords used by employers and recruiters in your field of interest. Incorporate a few of these keywords in your resume and online career profile.
  5. Try informational interviews with companies in your field of interest. These can be great networking opportunities and give you a sense of if the industry is a good fit for you.

You can read more about translating your skill set to the corporate world at https://bit.ly/2u0LkH0 and https://bit.ly/2ILS1pm.  And check out our Math Career Profiles for inspiration!