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Jul 30, 2011

Touch Mathematics

In trigonometry, the unit circle is a circle with radius 1, centered around the origin of a coordinate plane.  Seems simple but, it helps in the understanding of trigonometric functions, the basis of high school trigonometry.  

Trigonometry is seriously studied in the 11th or 12th grade and can throw students for a loop in the same way that Geometry does.  The unit circle is a fantastic reference for them.  The interactive unit circle built by Touch Mathematics does much, much more than any static image could do. For students, connecting concepts in math is hugely important in order to gain a mastery over the content.  The interactive unit circle helps students to connect many of the concepts at the root of trigonometry: basic trigonometric functions, periodicity of trig functions, angle relationships between trig functions...the list goes on and on.

In a high school math classroom instead of the traditional, static, image of a unit circle that is handed out at the beginning of the year or pointed to in the appendix of some textbook imagine being able to pull this up each time a new concept is introduced that involves trig functions.   

Jul 24, 2011

Free Book Notes

This one is for teachers only. Especially new teachers.  One of the things that pre-service teachers are very rarely told is how much time it will take to get everything together for each lesson they teach.  It's hard!  As a first year teacher you're focused on lesson plans, classroom management and making sure you don't loose a power struggle with a student in front of other students. What I always forgot was: great lesson plan but who's going to get the materials I need?  Oh right, I need to do that too.   

While we don't like to think about it this way, many teachers, especially high school teachers, work in isolation.  Each one reinventing the wheel time and time again. Hopefully this site will help English teachers out a bit. is a bit clunky (mostly because it's free) but it also holds a lot of information. There are plot summaries, character descriptions, study questions, short biographies of authors, the list goes on and on.  As I said at the beginning, while I would not provide this website to students, it's a much more efficient way for high school English teachers to put together study guides and long term lesson plans for novels and plays they are reading in their classrooms.

MIT's famous Physics professor

Professor Walter Lewin is well known at MIT and by recording his lectures in 1999 he has become famous the world over for his energetic, interactive and engaging lectures about physics

MIT OpenCourseWare is way for the university to share it's wealth of knowledge with the world, for free.  While I highly recommend any of their lectures, Prof. Lewin's are among the most entertaining.

In a high school classroom these lectures could be used to help demonstrate concepts in physics when the teacher or school just does not have the necessary resources. 

With assignments, lecture notes, exams and solutions included in the mix a home schooled student could use this course as primary content.

Prof. Lewin's love of science is contagious.  I highly recommend these lectures for any science student whether they are struggling, gifted and talented, home schooled, or just bored.