Data visualisation – it’s here and wow!

I’m presenting at a Commerce teacher’s conference (Comview) next week, about social media and its impact on business today. Whenever I plan a presentation, it never ceases to amaze me how you seem to constantly find yourself immersed in terrific content that is so pertinent to your subject matter. This presentation from Leslie Bradshaw, one of the new wunderkinds of Data Visualisation, and co-founder of  JESS3, is just such an example. I am certainly going to be mining this data for my presentation next week.

Be sure to view this presentation, and perhaps share the following quote with your Math’s teachers;

“Math majors, rejoice. Businesses are going to need tens of thousands of you in the coming years as companies grapple with a growing mountain of data.”

Steve Lohr  – New York Times.

Data mining and the art of data visualisation are proving to be key jobs that will be in increasingly high demand in our socially connected and evolving world. The founders of JESS3, Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw are onto a good thing. (Got any openings for a highly enthusiastic teacher from Australia who loves what you do. ; )  )


School’s out Friday

Surely it’s still Friday somewhere in the world. I hope so, anyway, because my eyes could not stay open last night. It’s that time of the year here; we’re nearing the end of term, planning budgets for 2012, and Speech Night preparations are well underway. This is a lethal cocktail that results in overload and lack of sleep. Worse still, there’s no cure. The work just has to be done.

I struggled a bit to find a vid for this this week, but this enthusiastic Maths teacher warms my heart. If Flo-Rider can help kids learn processes, then more power to teachers like this in my opinion.

It’s Saturday morning, the sun is shining, and it’s supposed to be 26 degrees here today. It doesn’t get better than that!

Enjoy your weekend. Make the most of it. : )

Math in the Movies -where was this when I needed it!

Maths has never been one of my strong points. I coped just fine until I hit year 9 and they started introducing letters into Maths problems. My brain couldn’t cope with this and my burgeoning career as a Astrophysicist went out the window. I had to settle for a career based on where I felt letters belonged – between the pages of books!

Now, had I had a Maths teacher who introduced new concepts with a snippet from a movie and who could have shown me how I could apply that concept to a real life situation, then my story could have been completely different. I often read Dan Meyer’s blog and contemplate how I think I would be engaged in his lessons. He thinks of novel ways to use new technology to relate concepts to students. I remember those discussions with teachers which always started with me asking, ‘When am I ever going to use this in life?

The other day, Carey Pohanka posted a link on Twitter about Mathematics in Movies, a page on a site run by Oliver Knill, who is from the Dept. of Mathematics at Harvard University. He’s teaching Linear algebra  and applications this semester, but he’s also providing assistance to Maths teachers everywhere by doing this;

This is a collection of movie clips in which Mathematics appears. I’m collecting DVDs and VHS tapes of such movies. This is a working document to be extended over time. I started this page during spring break 2006. See also the page “Begin of lectures in college teaching” and “End of lectures in college teaching”. To see the movies larger, watch the quicktime ipod version, which are files with .m4v extension. 


I just love ‘hooks’. The little bit of the unusual or different that get me thinking about things in a different light. If a speaker begins with something engaging I’m usually there with them for the long haul. It must be the same for the kids we teach. I like to use quotes to engage students and set the tone for a lesson. I taught for a semester at a school and thought those quotes were going over student’s heads, until one day I discovered a student diary left in a classroom. I flicked through it to find out who it belonged to, and discovered every one of those quotes carefully written out  in the pages of what was one of my student’s diaries.  Sometimes you just don’t even know the effect you are having. 

I like the thought of these Math in the Movies ‘hooks’ for students. I think they’d be able to relate to the visual medium to make a concept more relevant. Perhaps if you used them there would be less of those, ‘When am I ever going to use this in my life?’ questions that I’m guessing must rear their ugly head in many people’s Math’s lessons.

For another look at making maths relevant, take a look at Tania Sheko’s post, ‘I’m not good at maths but I could be’.  Excellent explanation of the site Real World Math and how to use Google Earth’s satellite imagery to add placemarks, annotations, photos and models, as well as measure distances and draw paths.

Make your maths class fun.

Think I’m having a YouTube week. Flicked into Twitter very briefly today and saw a tweet from Jeff Utecht with the link to this video. Here’s a way to start your next maths lesson – ‘I will derive’ is the name of the YouTube video. It’s all about calculus and uses impetus from Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’ to make a maths concept more interesting. Who said maths was boring!

Trendrr -Would maths teachers find this useful?

I’m not a maths teacher, but when I saw this I immediately thought of how it could be applied to teaching. Been looking at Download Squad (a fave site of mine) and noticed a post about Trendrr – a  graphing tool that lets you compare and graph social data from popular websites such as YouTube, ebay and myspace. According to Jay Hathaway;

Trendrr makes graphing simple by including a drag-and-drop scratchpad that lets you edit and compare graphs with a minumum of effort. “

It may well be that many of these social network sites are blocked in schools which may limit its effectiveness as a Web 2.0 tool in classrooms. I couldn’t help but think, however, that this would be a great site to be using to get your students interested in comparing data from sites that they use in their everyday lives – a bit of real life maths! Perhaps  teachers could create some graphs before class and have them ready so students can draw conclusions from the data. We all know how much more attention we pay to things when they have relevance in our lives. Thinking about it,  could be a great tool for Humanities teachers looking at the human condition and social trends.

(Graph – from Download Squad)