*by Dana Ernst and Angie Hodge*

### What’s this blog all about?

*Math Ed Matters*is a (roughly) monthly column sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America authored by Dana Ernst and Angie Hodge. Dana is a mathematician with interests in mathematics education and Angie is a mathematics education specialist. The column will explore topics and current events related to undergraduate mathematics education. Posts will aim to inspire, provoke deep thought, and provide ideas for the mathematics—and mathematics education—classroom. The coauthors' interest in and engagement with inquiry-based learning (IBL) will color the column's content.

Thanks to the Mathematical
Association of America for giving us the opportunity to share our musings
with you.

### About the authors

#### Dana Ernst

My name is Dana Ernst, and I am an assistant professor in the
Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Northern Arizona University (NAU)
in Flagstaff,
AZ. I am also a 2008 Fellow
of Project NExT, which is
a professional development program of the MAA for
new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences.

I completed my B.S. in mathematics at George Mason University
and then went on to complete my M.S. at NAU in 2000. After spending a year as an
instructor at NAU, I worked for two years as a full-time member of the math faculty at Front Range Community College in Boulder
and Longmont, CO. In August 2003, I returned
to graduate school and started working on my Ph.D. at University of Colorado at Boulder. Under the guidance of Richard M. Green, I finished my Ph.D. in
the summer of 2008.

After completing my Ph.D., I spent four years as an assistant
professor at Plymouth State University (PSU). While at PSU, I was twice named the Plymouth
State University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, an honor determined by
the mathematics majors. Moreover, during my last semester at PSU, I was
selected as the university’s sole nominee for the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award, which is a
statewide teaching award. In August of
2012, I returned to NAU (yay, my dream job!) and started working as an
assistant professor.

My primary research interests are in the interplay between
combinatorics and algebraic structures. More specifically, I study the
combinatorics of Coxeter
groups and their associated Hecke algebras, Kazhdan-Lusztig
theory, (generalized) Temperley-Lieb
algebras, diagram
algebras, and heaps of pieces. By
employing combinatorial tools such as diagram algebras and heaps of pieces, it is possible to gain insight into algebraic structures associated with Coxeter groups, and,
conversely, the corresponding structure theory can often lead to surprising
combinatorial results. The combinatorial nature of my research naturally lends
itself to collaborations with undergraduate students, and my goal is to
incorporate undergraduates into my research as much as possible. See my scholarship page for
more information.

I am also passionate about mathematics education. In
particular, I am interested in inquiry-based
learning (IBL) and the Moore method for
teaching mathematics. This educational paradigm has transformed my
teaching. I am currently a Special
Projects Coordinator for the Academy
of Inquiry-Based Learning and a mentor for several new IBL
practitioners. Moreover, I give
talks and organize
workshops on the benefits of IBL as well as the nuts and bolts of how to
implement this approach in the mathematics classroom.

I am interested in using technology to enhance the
teaching and learning of mathematics. Specifically,
I choose free and open-source
software and technologies when they are available. For example, I have been
incorporating Sage and GeoGebra into my teaching. Sage is a free, open-source mathematics software system licensed under the GPL. It combines the
power of many existing open-source packages into a common Python-based
interface. For examples of a few of the cool things you can do with Sage,
check out this page. According to their webpage, GeoGebra is free
and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education
that joins geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics, and calculus in one
easy-to-use package. There are tons of
awesome GeoGebra examples located here.

In addition to using free and open-source software, I am
inspired by the recent open-source
textbook movement and I strongly believe that educators should
choose free, open-source, or low-cost textbooks when possible. For a selection of free and/or open-source textbooks, see my list
located here. Also, take a peek at Rob
Beezer’s selection on this
page.

I also maintain a personal blog, which
is part of the Booles' Rings network of academic home pages/blogs. Moreover, I am active on Google+
and post regularly about mathematics, teaching, and technology. You can find my G+ profile here. In addition, I occasionally post about my cycling, trailing
running, and rock climbing adventures on my Elevation Gain blog. Lastly, I am a husband and a father of two
incredible sons. Oh, I enjoy drinking copious amounts of coffee, too.

#### Angie Hodge

Hi all! I am an assistant (soon to be associate) professor
of mathematics and the Haddix
Community Chair of Mathematics Education at the University of Nebraska Omaha. I earned my Ph.D. from Purdue in mathematics education in 2007 and my M.S. in mathematics also from Purdue University
in 2004. I am also a 2007 Fellow of Project NExT. I have been fortunate to find a career path
that has allowed me to combine my mathematics education research with my
passion for teaching mathematics courses.

In a nutshell, I teach mathematics courses with one of my
main goals being to get people excited about mathematics (and of course help
them learn mathematics deeply). Yes, excited about mathematics! Although I
started out as a very traditional mathematics instructor, I now try all sorts
of different things in my classroom from simple group work to inquiry-based
learning with very little lecture. In this blog, I will tell you
what I have learned from my adventures in teaching everything from traditional mathematics
courses to summer workshops for teachers. I will even tell you how and why I use a whistle in my calculus courses.

In addition, I am involved in a variety of mathematics
service work related to inquiry-based learning with a special focus on
developing a love of mathematics in others. This includes serving as a Special
Projects Coordinator for the Academy of Inquiry-Based Learning, Omaha Area Math Teachers’ Circle co-leader,
co-leader of a STEM summer camp for at-risk girls (EUREKA!),
and the co-advisor for the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Math Club.

In this blog, I will share my journey: successes
and flops. My lens is that of a mathematics educator who
believes in strong content knowledge, hands-on/minds-on learning, and who
strongly believes that collaboration is essential between those who specialize
in mathematics and those who specialize in education.

The “human side” of my life also colors the lens through which I
view challenges in the classroom. Calling myself a “Mathlete,” I find great pleasure
in endurance events such as running ultra marathons. On the softer side, I also
enjoy watching college football and basketball, trying new foods, and
traveling.

### Coming Up NExT

So, how in the world did two people with such different
backgrounds meet and what is their academic connection? This question and more
will be answered in the next blog, “Two Worlds Collide: Mathematics and
Mathematics Education.”

### Other future posts

Here’s a preview of some of our potential upcoming blog
posts.

- History and impact of Project NExT
- Inquiry-Based Learning: What, Why, and How?
- How and why did Angie and Dana start implementing an IBL approach?
- What's the Buzz? (Calculus Bee)
- A recap of the 16th Annual Legacy of R. L. Moore Conference (June 13-15, 2013 in Austin, TX)
- A recap of MathFest 2013 (July 31-August 3, 2013 in Hartford, CT)
- Pivotal Moments: How did Dana and Angie get to where they are now?

## 1 comment:

Hi there! great post. Thanks for sharing a very interesting and informative content, it is a big help to me and to others as well, keep it up!

Keep your student active and engaged this coming summer with a Mathnasium summer camp that will help them avoid the dreaded “summer slide.” The summer slide is the two months (on average) of instruction that children ‘lose’ over the summer due to lack of engagement.

summer camps manchester ma

Post a Comment