Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Review: Monkey Pod Games

Who doesn't like puzzles? I remember playing with devious barrel-shaped wooden puzzles as a kid. I was recently contacted by Rachel at Monkey Pod Games asking if I'd be willing to review one of their puzzles. I always take a look at a company's web-site before I agree to a review as I've discovered that free stuff isn't free since I have to spend time reading a book or playing with a puzzle or game. If I don't like what I see or if I think a product is too expensive to appeal to readers then I won't take a review copy.

I liked what I saw at the Monkey Pod Games site so I humbly agreed to accept a "The Perplexing X in a Box" puzzle. I received it a few days later. It's a devious little puzzle. I couldn't figure it out and I ended up going to the Monkey Pod web-site to get the solution.


Review: Cows in the Maze

Cows in the Maze: And Other Mathematical Explorations is reminiscent of the books of the late Martin Gardner. Fun stories. Interesting explorations. Challenging but accessible. That's my summary of Stewart's new book. For those of you who don't know, Stewart is a very prolific writer. He has published over 60 books and he contributes to the monthly Scientific American "Recreational Mathematics" column. The material for this book comes from his columns.


Math bloggers: Would you like free Math books to review?

Over the past year I've developed relationships with some publishers of Math books and I've received a number of free books. Publishers are very interested in getting newly published books into the hands of bloggers if we're willing to review them on our blogs. One publisher has explicitly asked me if I know of any Math bloggers who would review books and that request prompted this post.

I would like to build an email list of Math bloggers who are serious about reviewing books. This means that you should not ask publishers for books that you have no intention of reviewing or that you plan to give a crummy review to. This doesn't mean that your reviews need to be rosy but, if they include criticism, it should be balanced with positive feedback. And, if you get a book and then realize that you can't review it that's ok although that shouldn't happen too often. I've turned down requests to review books if I don't think I'll like the book or if I think it's too advanced or too basic for my audience but I have reviewed every book I've gotten. You can see plenty of reviews on this blog.

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Crewton Ramone teaches multiplication with manipulatives

Crewton Ramone's Blog of Math has a couple of videos that show the power of using manipulatives to do multiplication. I've always been pretty decent at multiplication yet I enjoyed seeing how manipulatives can really help students to get grounded into what multiplication really means. His videos demystify the cross-multiplication tricks that I and others present. And, Crewton does a great job of showing how to do visual multiplication using symbols so you don't need need to even buy any manipulatives. For small kids, it's great because they get to turn multiplication into counting! And, best of all, Crewton has a nice enthusiasm about teaching the basics to kids as you'll see if you peruse his blog.



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Math typesetting system for WordPress

I've been wanting for some time to incorporate mathematical equations into my blog posts. What I've done up to now is to use this nice web site that Brent from Math Less Traveled pointed me to. You enter a LaTeX expression and the web-site creates an image which you then copy over to your web server and reference from your blog post. This system works great if you only need a small number of images. As an example, I used it to typeset the problem in Monday Math Madness #7.

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Ti-Nspire inspires Math students

A while ago I received an email out of the blue from Texas Instruments (TI). One of their marketing people discovered this blog and offered to send me a TI-Nspire calculator to review. I quickly accepted, after all, who would turn down a free fancy calculator, right? Once I received the calculator I realized that this was no ordinary calculator; it was a visual Math learning system. I did nothing with it for a couple of months until I finally realized that I was not the best person to review it as it would take me quite a bit of time and effort to learn and appreciate its power. Sure, I could read the manual and run some demos but I didn't think that would give me enough experience to write a very in-depth review.

In discussing my challenge with TI, I learned of some teachers who were successfully using the TI-Nspire in the classroom. One person in particular, Eric Butterbaugh, was teaching Math in Harlem, New York. It occurred to us in that conversation that readers of this blog would appreciate hearing about Mr. Butterbaugh's success with the Ti-Nspire system. I created some interview questions and received back the interview you're about to read.


Review: Numbers Juggling – Times Without the Tables

Brian Foley runs a web-site, Math Mojo and a blog, The Math Mojo Chronicles. The web-site aims to make, in Brian's words, "Math meaningful." While I enjoy the site, I struggled to explain what Math Mojo was about until I found this description in the What is Math Mojo page:

Math Mojo is a way of looking at math that fosters a sense for numbers. The more new ways you learn and practice, the more of a feel you will get for manipulating and understanding how numbers work. They will become less of a mystery, and you will feel better about your ability to do math. These methods are based on several different speed-math techniques. They all work at least as well as the methods that you were taught in school. In fact, schools that teach these methods do much better than the national average.


Review: Math Mammoth Geometry 1 Elementary Math Workbook

I know Maria Miller through her Homeschool Math Blog. As a fellow Math blogger I like to know what others in my community are up to so I follow her blog along with others. I'm also aware that Maria has a series of Math worktexts (workbook + textbook) and worksheets that she offers online through her Math Mammoth business.

I was curious about Maria's offerings and thought that others might be as well, especially homeschool parents, so I asked Maria for a review copy of one of her books. What follows is an unpaid review. I am not currently reselling Maria's books although I might in the future. Beyond a free copy of the book I am reviewing I have received no other form of payment.

I chose the Math Mammoth Geometry 1 Elementary Math Workbook to review. It's a 113 page book, filled with great explorations, clear explanations, and nice illustrations. And it sells for all of $5 as an electronically downloadable PDF file. This is a great value and the deal is even better for folks ordering a number of different books as a set to download or on CD.


Review: MathNotations blog

Last November I proposed to exchange blog reviews with other Math bloggers as a way to get our blogs a wider audience. In that same post I threatened to review the blogs I like if I got no takers. Well, I've gotten no takers to date and I'm making good on my threat of reviewing blogs I like.

I really like Dave Marain's MathNotations blog. I've been following it for a few months and had theMath Notations pleasure this morning of conversing with Dave over the phone. Dave shared with me that he's been involved in mathematics research and in Math education for many, many years. Dave loves Math tremendously and he's particularly interested in guiding students in mathematical investigations. Investigations are also a particular interest of mine as I'd rather guide a student to learning something neat and let him or her make the discovery than merely try to insert information into the student's brain.

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