Conceptual Algebra
Fall 2004
Other resources
Syllabus
Please feel free to come by my office any time during scheduled
office hours.
You are welcome to
come at other times, but in that case you might want to make
an appointment, just to make sure that I will be there then. You can
make an appointment simply by talking to me before or after class, by
calling me at my
office
or at home, or by sending email.
You may also ask any questions directly via phone or email. If I'm
not in when you call, please leave a message on the voicemail or
answering machine with your name, number, and a good time for me to
call you back. I will try to respond to your phone or
email
message
as soon as possible.
Course Objectives
The purpose of this course is for you to
become involved with a wide variety of situations and contexts which
give rise to mathematical concepts essential for teaching grades 48.
Specific topics include the (sometimes surprisingly deep) mathematics
underlying functions, factoring (number theory), fractions, ratios,
congruence, similarity, and geometric transformations. A common theme
will be finding relationships between algebra and geometry.
Another goal is for you to become adept at, and comfortable with,
analyzing and solving rich mathematical problems that you do not
necessarily immediately know how to solve.
Textbook:
A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for
Elementary School Teachers, 8th ed., Billstein, Libeskind,
Lott.
We will be discussing the material of Sections 2.1 and
2.5, and Chs. 4, 5, 6, 10, 12.
Grades
 Homework (20%):

Individual homework will be assigned
regularly, and due approximately weekly. You are allowed to work
together on homework (in fact, I strongly encourage you to do so), but
the paper you turn in you must write yourself. Homework is due at the
beginning of class (10:30 sharp); if you cannot make it to
class, arrange to either deliver the homework to me early, or have
someone else bring it to class for you.
Your lowest homework score will be dropped.
 Projects (20%)
 There will be approximately five projects, more
indepth than the weekly homework, tied to the material we are
discussing. These will be similar to some of our inclass activities,
except that you will solve them outside of class, and write a report
of your findings. As with the homework, I strongly encourage you to
work with your classmates on the projects, but you must write the
report yourself. You are also not permitted to use outside books or
the internet to "research" the projects.
Guidelines for writing your reports, and the rubric I will use for
grading them, will be handed out separately, later.
 Tests (15% each):

There will be two inclass, closedbook tests on the following days:
 Fri., 1 Oct.
 Fri., 12 Nov.
Makeup tests can be given only in extraordinary and unavoidable
circumstances, and with advance notice.
 Final (30%)
 comprehensive
Fri., 10 Dec., 10:0012:45 p.m.
Attendance:
I strongly encourage you to attend every class,
though there is no particular grade penalty for absences. My goal is
for class activities to be very interactive, and to complement, rather
than echo, the textbook, and thus for every class to be worth
attending.
Drop date:
The deadline for studentinitiated drops with a W
is Mon., 18 Oct. After this date, you can only drop with the Dean's
approval, which is granted only under extenuating circumstances.