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Lawrence M. Lesser

Students analyze items from the media to answer mathematical questions related to the article. The Lorenz curve and income disparity are discussed, and some popular misconceptions about the lottery are debunked.

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Lawrence M. Lesser

A song about mathematical properties of the number eight, and places the number occurs in the natural world. Written to a familiar tune, teachers could use this song in their classroom to get their students excited about numbers.

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Lawrence M. Lesser

The University of Texas at El Paso's many distinctions include being the nation's only doctoral-research-intensive university with a majority Mexican-American student population and having the first NCAA basketball team start an all-black lineup in the championship game (in 1966). Also, UTEP is unique in the Western Hemisphere for its reproduction of Bhutanese architecture. The inspiration for this distinctive feature dates back almost a century, when a UTEP dean's spouse saw photographs of Bhutan's buildings and landscapes in National Geographic (see, e.g., the January 1910 and the April 1914 issues). She was struck by the similarities between the mountain vistas of that eastern Himalayan kingdom and those of the El Paso region.

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Lawrence M. Lesser

Being able to select, use, and interpret measures of center is expected of all secondary students (NCTM 2000, 2006). Discussing average class size can be a motivational vehicle for exploring this topic because students (and teachers) at all grade levels notice when they have significantly bigger classes and high school juniors and seniors see average class size touted in the publicity brochures they receive from colleges. Also, educators, administrators, policy makers, and parents are concerned about the impact class size may have on student achievement and equity (e.g., Finn, Gerber, and Boyd-Zaharias 2005; Nye, Hedges, and Konstantopoulos 2004; Pong and Pallas 2001). Finally, using situations that readily yield results that students initially find counterintuitive can be motivating (Lesser 1998).

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Lawrence M. Lesser

Although introducing technology into our mathematics curricula allows us to tackle problems of size and complexity as never before, we face a danger of introducing tools to students before they have a sufficient understanding of how mathematics content within their reach can be used to shed light on the algorithms within the tools or on the use of the tools themselves. Fortunately, we can view mathematical theory and technology not as opponents but rather as partners that make the whole of mathematical understanding richer than the sum of its parts. Indeed, bringing technology into our classrooms can encourage new questions that technology-free mathematics must answer. This article focuses mainly on a common example in technology-rich mathematics curricula, namely, the line of best fit, followed by a discussion of two additional examples—interpolating polynomials and complete graphs. In each case, connections between theory and technology do not appear to be as widely known and used as they could be.

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Lawrence M. Lesser

At this time in American education, many educators (e.g., Manning [1995]) continue to struggle with the balance of highlighting differences and highlighting common ground among individuals with diverse backgrounds. Giving full educational opportunities to all students, however, not only is the right thing to do as a matter of justice but also enriches the educational experience of all individuals involved. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1997, 5) explains one reason that these opportunities are essential for the algebra course: “In recent years, [algebra] has become a ‘gateway’ course to higher education, particularly for minority students. Those students who steer away from algebra early often forfeit some of their options for the future.”

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Lawrence M. Lesser

The “birthday problem” is one of several examples (Shaughnessy 1977, 1992) that illustrate students' tendency to underestimate the probability of an event's occurring at least once.

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Lawrence M. Lesser

Stereotypes are encountered in many contexts in society and are often reflected in the humor of a community. Mathematics can be a powerful tool to help break down remaining harmful stereotypes in our society and build our capacity to pursue equity and justice.

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James Metz and Lawrence M. Lesser

[El Paso, Tex., city council representative] Eddie Holguin stated, “It's taken at face value that we have to pay for a 500-year flood construction project right away, but we still have 490 more years to deal with this and not tax people out of their home in order to get things done.”

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Lawrence M. Lesser and Randy Hall

A cartoon ties the word normal to the concept of a distribution in statistics. Representation of data speeds prompts comparison of exponents with bases 10 and 2.