Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall 2014 Schedule

This fall term I have contracted for the following classes at a local community college:

- A developmental algebra course. I haven't taught a course at this level in a year and am looking forward to getting back to the math teaching/life coaching dichotomy these classes require. The course uses PowerPoint files the utilize 'clickers', an online homework system, group activities, and group exams. I'm looking forward to trying to make the PowerPoints a bit more engaging. There's such an awful head space with them, I'm just unsure how best to use them.
- A college algebra course. Fairly straight-forward flipped-classroom model that I've taught a few times before. We've met once and they seem fairly young, and a bit disinterested, but I'm optimistic.
- A pre-statistics course that focuses on combinatorics, and some financial math. The assessments are fairly unique, nine quizzes and one final, and there is no textbook. Not sure if I'm looking forward to or loathing not having a resource to rely on. Might be a good time to prep my own book on the topic.

I have also been contracted to teach a culinary math class at a local (although corporate) culinary school. The course mainly covers in-the-kitchen topics, like conversions, yields, and plate costing. The course is fairly small (10 students) and they all seem to be fairly motivated. All of them have taken 3 kitchen basics classes, so I feel there won't be much 'weeding out' as in other math classes at this level. Some students did mention that they've covered some of the more advanced topics in the course in other classes, so I'm a bit unsure of the role of the course. If there is quite a bit of overlap, I am looking forward to getting the syllabi of the other courses and seeing where I can support their course objectives.

I will also be doing some after school tutoring for a few high school students, taking a class or two through Coursera (more on that later), and enjoying the married life.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Culinary Math and Visual Mnemonics

For the upcoming fall term I've been contracted to teach a culinary math class at a local culinary school. The course deals primarily with units of measure, yields, and recipe costing. Doing my own research into the course content I found an excellent resource in Culinary Math, by Linda Blocker and Julia Hill. Overall it is an excellent introduction into the mathematical topics that are important to cooks and chefs, and the terminology they've developed around them.

One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed is its use of visual mnemonics. The first one they use is this one to show the relationship between cups, pints, quarts, and gallons:


Within each 'P' there are two 'C's, indicating that there are two cups in every pint, and so on; two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon, etc. This has a really nice recursive relationship as well, within each 'Q' there are four 'C's, meaning there are four cups in a quart. The design of it is pretty simple, nesting letters inside of each other. Compare this with the 'normal' way of looking at unit conversions, a table, and the benefits are pretty clear.


While the table is only good for one conversion at a time, the above image shows the relationship of four different units. The succinctness of the image is powerful.

The other visual mnemonics are based on the below image:


To find one of the parts cover it up and follow the below 'rubric'.

- If 'P' was covered up, mutliply the 'W' (whole amount) and the % (the percent given).
- If 'W' was covered up, divide 'P' (part) by the '%' (percent).
- If '%' was covered up, divide 'P' (part) by the 'W' (whole amount).

While not the most ingenious thing, it is a fairly simple mnemonic to follow, and the text uses it in a number of different contexts (edible portions, as purchased portions, etc.)

Have you encountered an interesting visual mnemonic? I'd like to hear what you've encountered out in the 'wild'.