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SIGMAA Activities

SIGMAA QL: SIGMAA on Quantitative Literacy


Thursday, August 7, 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Broadway I & II

SIGMAA QL Turns 10

A Discussion of the Past and Future of Quantitative Literacy

Thursday, August 7, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Broadway I & II

2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the SIGMAA on Quantitative Literacy. SIGMAA QL was founded in order to provide a structure within the mathematics community to advance the understanding and teaching of quantitative literacy, which its charter defines as “the ability to adequately use elementary mathematical tools to interpret and manipulate quantitative ideas that arise in individuals’ private, civic, and work lives.” Much has changed since 2004 in the QL community, in the universities in which we teach, in K12 mathematics, and in society at large. Our panelists will reflect on the past and future of quantitative literacy and foster a discussion on how we can continue to advance our common goals.

Andrew J Miller, Belmont University, Past Chair of SIGMAA QL

Caren Diefenderfer, Hollins University, Founding Chair Elect of SIGMAA QL
Rick Gillman, Valparaiso University, Founding Past Chair of SIGMAA QL
Dorothy WallaceDartmouth University, Founding Editor, Numeracy
Bernie Madison, University of Arkansas, QL Author and Assessment Developer
Wm. David Burns, Executive Director, National Center for Science and Civic Engagement

POM SIGMAA: SIGMAA on the Philosophy of Mathematics


Thursday, August 7, 5:30 – 6:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Galleria I​

Guest Lecture: Math-Speak: Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics

Thursday, August 7, 6:00 p.m. – 6:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Galleria I​

Mathematics is famously difficult, especially for students first seriously encountering theory and proofs. The problem is not just that "math is hard," but that the special language of mathematics is especially hard.

This is not surprising: communicating technical ideas and fine distinctions naturally requires extra linguistic effort.  This difficulty stems, I'll argue, only partly from the genuinely complicated syntax and semantics of mathematical language. It arises also from linguistic "pragmatics": what's "heard" depends not only on what's said but also, crucially, on what "hearers" bring to the "conversation". I'll illustrate with examples connecting the pragmatics and the syntactical and semantic issues, and, perhaps, suggest some possible strategies.

Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College

SIGMAA MCST: SIGMAA on Math Circles for Students and Teachers

Math Circle Demonstration 

Saturday, August 9, 9:00 a.m. – 9:55 a.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Pavilion East

A math circle is an enrichment experience that brings mathematics professionals in direct contact with pre-college students and/or their teachers. Circles foster passion and excitement for deep mathematics. This demonstration session offers the opportunity for conference attendees to observe and then discuss a math circle experience designed for local students. While students are engaged in a mathematical investigation, mathematicians will have a discussion focused on appreciating and better understanding the organic and creative process of learning that circles offer, and on the logistics and dynamics of running an effective circle.

Philip YasskinTexas A&M University
Paul ZeitzUniversity of San Francisco
Japheth WoodNew York Math Circle
Craig DanielsPDX (Portland) Math Circle


Math Wrangle

Saturday, August 9, 10:30 a.m. – 11:25 a.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Pavilion East

Math Wrangle will pit teams of students against each other, the clock, and a slate of great math problems. The format of a Math Wrangle is designed to engage students in mathematical problem solving, promote effective teamwork, provide a venue for oral presentations, and develop critical listening skills. A Math Wrangle incorporates elements of team sports and debate, with a dose of strategy tossed in for good measure. The intention of the Math Wrangle demonstration at MathFest is to show how teachers, schools, circles, and clubs can get students started in this exciting combination of mathematical problem solving with careful argumentation via public speaking, strategy and rebuttal.

Steve Dunbar, American Math Competitions
Tatiana ShubinSan Jose State University
Ed KeppelmannUniversity of Nevada, Reno
Craig DanielsPDX (Portland) Math Circle

American Mathematics Competitions

Problems Well-Suited for Math Circles

Friday, August 8, 2:35 p.m. – 3:55 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom II

Choosing a problem which is suitable for a math circle session is arguably the most important task for a circle leader.  Good problems are crucial not only for a single session – the success or a failure of a math circle depends on problems presented to participants. But what makes a problem good?  Which problems and topics are suitable and why? At the session, a sequence of experienced math circle leaders will present their ideas and share handouts that describe how to run a math circle on a particular topic. A general discussion will follow these presentations.

Tatiana Shubin, San Jose State University
Phil Yasskin, Texas A&M University

Gene Abrams, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Brian Conrey, American Institute of Mathematics
Amanda Serenevy, Riverbend Community Math Center
James Tanton, Mathematical Association of America
Sam Vandervelde, St Lawrence University
Paul Zeitz, University of San Francisco
Joshua Zucker, Julia Robinson Math Festival

SIGMAA on Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA MCST)

BIO SIGMAA: SIGMAA on Mathematical and Computational Biology

Contributed Paper Session

Undergraduate Research Activities in Mathematical and Computational Biology

Friday, August 8, morning

This session is dedicated to aspects of undergraduate research in mathematical and computational biology.  First and foremost, this session would like to highlight research results of projects that either were conducted by undergraduates or were collaborations between undergraduates and their faculty mentors.  Of particular interest are those collaborations that involve students and faculty from both mathematics and biology.  Secondly, as many institutions have started undergraduate research programs in this area, frequently with the help of initial external funding, the session is interested in the process and logistics of starting a program and maintaining a program even after the initial funding expires.  Important issues include faculty development and interdisciplinary collaboration, student preparation and selection, the structure of research programs, the acquisition of resources to support the program, and the subsequent achievements of students who participate in undergraduate research in mathematical and computational biology.

Timothy ComarBenedictine University

SIGMAA on Mathematical and Computational Biology (BIO SIGMAA)

WEB SIGMAA: SIGMAA on Mathematics Instruction using the Web

Panel Discussion

Open Source Resources for Mathematics: Benefits and Costs

Friday August 8, 1:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m., Hilton Portland, 23rd Floor, Skyline 2

This panel will include innovators in the development and use of open source resources for mathematics.  A variety of options will be represented ranging from computer software to online homework and Open Textbooks.  Significant time will be reserved for questions from the audience and between the panelists.

Each of the panelists will focus on the use of open source systems and how each can successfully enable end users to do and teach mathematics.  Costs--both tangible and intangible--will be considered and compared to those normally associated with commercial products.  Each panelist will address the advantages and disadvantages of these systems when compared to commercial products--and include any research on the efficacy of using their system for teaching purposes.  Philosophical reasons for supporting open source products will be addressed.  Additionally, avenues regarding how the audience can get involved in contributing to product development will be provided. 

John TravisMississippi College
Karl-Dieter CrismanGordon College

Davide CervoneUnion University (MathJax)
Jane LongStephen F. Austin State University (Sage)
Albert KimReed College (R)
Rob BeezerUniversity of Puget Sound (Open Textbooks)
Robin CruzCollege of Idaho (WeBWorK)

Committee on Technologies in Mathematics Education
Professional Development Committee

Business Meeting

Friday, August 8, 5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Parlor AB


What Are Effective Online Homework Problems in Mathematics? 

Friday, August 8, 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Parlor AB

Online delivery of homework and other assessments in mathematics courses has become standard.  This discussion will focus on best practices in developing online questions for mathematics, with the goal of creating problems that are pedagogically well-formed and which take full advantage of the online environment.  Assessing the effectiveness of online problems will also be considered. In particular, what factors or metrics might be used to determine the efficacy of an online mathematics problem? Following the presentation, time will be allowed for the audience to participate in this discussion.  There will be a follow-up contributed paper session titled, “Well-Designed Online Assessment: Well-formed Questions, Discovery-based Explorations, and their Success in Improving Student Learning” at JMM 2015.

Paul SeeburgerMonroe Community College