Creating an Algebra Book using our Topic Index
Written by: Dr. Christine von Renesse
In 2012 the Discovering the Art of Mathematics team started reaching out to the two-year colleges, wondering if our materials and pedagogy might be interesting and helpful to them. To start collaborating we went to the NEMATYC conference in 2013 and gave a workshop about some of our materials and ideas at www.artofmathematics.org. Among the many things we learned was the realization that many faculty are interested in support around algebra related courses.
So here was the question: could we use our materials (Discovering the Art for Mathematics books) to teach algebra related content? I went to the topic index on our website and looked at all the chapters that are in the section algebra. The good news was that there is a lot of great material covering some basic understanding of algebra as well as some interesting practice and applications of algebra on our website. Unfortunately it is tedious (and not so pretty) to download the PDFs of the chapters and make them into a new book by merging them (I tried it). So I decided to actually grab our $LaTeX$ chapters and make it look a bit prettier. We dream of a system that will allow all users access to our $LaTeX$ chapters to create their own book versions, but realizing this vision will be some time off in the future. The new algebra book has now a table of content that follows a flow from easier to more advanced or applied algebra topics. Please let us know if this is useful for your class and if there are particular topics that you are missing.
And while I was writing this blog post, I received an email from a Community College in Illinois where they started teaching a new course: Preparatory Math for General Education (PMGE). This course will replace the traditional beginner and intermediate algebra courses and teach algebra topics conceptually and problem based - a pathway to a mathematics for liberal arts course. This sounds like a great place to use some of our ideas. I would love to know if we would need to adjust the level of our activities or not, my guess is that we would. Phil Hotchkiss and Volker Ecke will travel to Springfield, IL in October 2013 to do professional development at a community college and I hope they will learn more about how to adapt our activities for the needs of a PMGE class.