Saturday, December 4, 2010
Listen Up: Calculus
The language of mathematics is a universal one which finds commonality between students with differing cultures, socio-economical status, and interests. Much of the mathematics taught in classrooms involves procedures that lead to solutions. While students are often able to generate these answers, relating them to content and giving them purpose are more difficult tasks. Educators should offer students an explanation or an opportunity to discover the reasoning for learning. This will give learners insight into the purpose of knowledge and long term benefits awaiting them. The study of calculus is often a course where new students express mixed emotions ranging from fear to enthusiasm. As most math students will tell you, writing is a must even on the first day in any classroom. The next time you teach Calculus treat your students to, Professor Sautoy's, Podcast 1-A Brief History in Mathematics Newton and Leibniz. This BBC recording encourages students to interpret mathematics as the "queen" behind all fields of science. Sautoy's attempt to build intrinsic value in mathematics is cleverly achieved in this first episode of ten. In under 20 minutes students can gain an understanding of the history behind Calculus, its' creators and how its commonly used. Imagine the reduction in the anxiety level for many students after a listening and completing an assignment asking them to post a comment to the classroom blog. The podcast balances the relationships of historical figures Leibniz and Newton while offering insight into calculus' vast uses in modern times. A Calculus book can be intimidating, therefore by using this audio recording, students can make a connection to the characters in the story behind calculus, thus taking the edge off the concept. Technology is available to help our students make connections to the concepts they are learning. As educators, podcasts offer students learning experiences in their element, and lead to lifelong knowledge.