Kindergarten Geometry Challenge: What Shape Is This?

Octagon

Don’t bother to count the sides.

Don’t try to think of what prefix to use.

I learned the “correct” answer from other parents who pulled their children out of school for homeschooling.

If you thought this was an octagon, I’m sorry to say that you were way off.

It’s a stop sign, of course.

Even though it’s not red.

Even though it doesn’t have the word STOP anywhere on it.

If your kids watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Team UmiZoomi in preschool, this could be a little confusing, since those preschool shows actually use the technically correct words for these shapes (Mickey even teaches the names of 3D shapes).

Maybe those words become more challenging when the kids enter kindergarten.

All I can say is:

Please, oh please, octagon teaching our kids the wrong words!

Octagon it!

Between this and my previous post, I know we’ve said enough and have probably said too much.

Perhaps this merits a moment of silence instead…

Read Tuesday: We need your help to get the word out!

This is a great effort to help spread the news of Read Tuesday through Facebook. 🙂

S.K. Nicholls

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All you Facebookers: We need your family and friends.  Help us promote this event with a post to your Facebook account.  This event is like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but it is all about books. It can read something like this:

Authors interested in promoting your books?  It is easy to sign up.  Gift Givers: Support the Indie Author & the Traditional Author and give the gift of books for the Holidays this year. This is going to be HUGE! December 10th! Mark your calendars. Free and 99 cent books. HUGE discounts. http://readtuesday.com/.”

Feel free to copy and post to your Facebook site.  Post it to your group sites, as well!  Or make your own message!  (Copy and paste the Read Tuesday URL http://readtuesday.com/ into your Facebook status with your message!)

When you post the link, a gold bow will appear in a thumbnail with a link…

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Promoting Through Social Media

If you have an existing Facebook account and you’re planning to start marketing through Facebook, the fifth paragraph of this article may illuminate a few important points.

Finding Myself Through Writing

Blogging is new to me, but how hard can it really be? I just finished writing my first book and now I am in the process of publishing it as POD (print on demand) through Createspace. The only drawback to that is I have to market and promote it myself! That shouldn’t be too hard, should it? After researching every possible way to market and promote, I have finally begun. The number one suggestion is to get it out to the public through social media. (Facebook, twitter, blogging)

As my family and friends know, I am not the best at social media. Yes, I have a Facebook page – after much harassing from my children and friends. They said, “You have to do it so you can see pictures of your grandchildren.” I really doubt they would have withheld pictures from me if I didn’t agree, so I continued to…

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Late to the Social Media Game

I was ahead of the social media generation. We weren’t using cell phones in high school or getting online when we got home. We mainly used the computer for word processing, programming, and occasionally games, but nothing like the games these days. We had a lot of games that didn’t have any pictures at all, like Mystery Mansion or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

On the other hand, almost all of my students seem to be on Facebook, used to be on MySpace, and are now into Twitter. So for a few years, I have felt that social media just wasn’t my generation.

I have taken a real liking to WordPress, however. Once I finally figured it out, I have felt that blogging was invented just for me. Ha ha. 🙂 I should have been blogging twenty years ago. (But then what else would I have accomplished in that time?)

Since I’ve been at WordPress, I’ve seen many bloggers from my generation, or thereabouts, who seem to be quite active with Twitter and Facebook. This gave me the inspiration to start feeding my WordPress posts into Twitter for a while now. I see that I have some followers on Twitter (here is a big thank you to any followers anywhere), so maybe it’s time to start learning what else I might do with a hundred or so characters. 🙂

I’ve had a personal Facebook account for years, mostly for close family and a couple of friends. There are some people, it seems, that you can’t get in touch with any other way, which is why I joined Facebook. 🙂 I finally added my author page to Facebook. Like Twitter, I’ll start out by feeding my posts into Facebook.

Read Tuesday (a Black Friday type of sales event just for books) seems to be more popular on Facebook than anywhere else. I’ll have to think about how to put more content over there (although the Read Tuesday website gets several referrals from the Facebook page).

I’m a complete author now, as I can vainly say:

Please Like me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter (@ChrisDMcMullen). Ha! But, really, you “had me” just be viewing my post here at WordPress. 🙂

As long as I’m making such requests, I may as well also ask you to Like or Follow (@ReadTuesday) Read Tuesday, too, or check out the Read Tuesday website.

You could even +1 me on Google. I’ve scarcely used this, but it’s on my to-do list (with PInterest and many other things). I had started a blog with Google’s Blogger (BlogSpot) to make some posts that relate to teaching or learning fundamental math skills, but haven’t been using it since Google’s Reader met its end. Maybe I’ll revive it, or try it again over here at WordPress.

Please feel free to describe your author pages at Facebook or Twitter in the comments section and I will surely check them out. 🙂 (Or the next time I visit your blog, I’ll look for these buttons.)

Chris McMullen

Too Much Knowledge Should Be Punished, Right?

Too much knowledge

My daughter is 5 years old. She’s in kindergarten. Today she received her first report card.

One of the categories was shapes. The teacher assessed her knowledge of shapes for the past 9 weeks with a single 9-question test.

My daughter got 7 of the questions right, but somehow managed to earn a score of 2 out of 4.

Anyway, the two questions that she got wrong were box and can.

My daughter called the box a cube and she called the can a cylinder.

So instead of 4 out of 4, she has a score of 2 out of 4. Definitely, my daughter needs to improve her geometry skills.

It would be a shame if our students were to learn the precise terminology. How awful the world would be then.

The better thing, education seems to advocate, is for everyone to know just the material that will be taught on standardized exams. Let’s dare not learn something more or better, which may result in selecting incorrect answers on those precious multiple choice exams.

(It’s not a point I will debate with the teacher. It might make matters worse for my daughter in other ways. You have to be reasonable to be reasoned with. By the way, I am myself a teacher.)

* * *

This reminds me of another story. At the time, I was coach of a high school quiz bowl team at a math & science school for gifted juniors and seniors.

The team was competing in the state finals at the local university. The event was open to the public, and many parents and friends were in attendance.

One of the questions was a physics question. In case you don’t know, I have a Ph.D. in physics and I’ve been teaching physics for a dozen years. (I presently teach at the university.)

One of the students on the team was among the best students in my class. He answered the question promptly.

The question asked for the direction of centripetal acceleration.

My student answered, “Inward,” with a big smile, knowing that his answer was correct.

The judge said it was incorrect. The correct answer was “toward the center,” not “inward.” A little piece of paper with the words “toward the center” printed on it proved her point.

To complicate matters, the scorekeeper spoke up. It turns out that the scorekeeper was a math teacher. The scorekeeper indicated that she felt that inward and toward the center may both be correct answers.

But the judge decided that nothing was better than going by the exact answer printed on her sheet of paper, so inward was, in fact, incorrect.

What’s really funny is what happened immediately after the student said, “Inward.”

The judge stalled for a moment. After this silence, the student added to his answer, saying, “Negative r-hat.”

I just about slapped my forehead when I heard that. He was in the calculus-based physics class, where I had derived the equation for centripetal acceleration using polar coordinates and polar unit vectors. The mathematical way of expressing the acceleration vector in uniform circular motion is with “negative r-hat.”

He was right, but it probably didn’t help his cause.

(I kept my mouth shut the whole time because nothing good will come from complaining to a person who is in charge and showing signs of stubbornness. The last thing you want is to get disqualified, dismissed, not invited back, or to build a bad reputation for the school.)

* * *

Now for my peace of mind I shall have to read one of those treasured classics that foretell of a world that nearly succeeds in eliminating creative free thought, but, fortunately, doesn’t quite.

Please forgive my rant. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that I prefer to write something that may be helpful and usually don’t rant. But tonight I could think of nothing else, so rant I did. 🙂

Chris McMullen