Alan A. Hodson
900 S. Cotton
El Paso, TX 79901 USA
What is MathMagic?
MathMagic, is a K-12 telecommunications project developed in El Paso, TX that provides a strong motivator for students to use computer technology while increasing problem-solving strategies and communications skills. In a nutshell, MathMagic posts challenges into each of four categories (k-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12) to trigger each registered team to pair up with another team and engage in an exchange of problem-solving dialog. When an agreement is reached, one solution is posted for every pair.
Has it been done before?
MathMagic has received wide ideological acceptance by hundreds of present FidoNet users, because it addresses most of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. It is now expanding into the Internet.
Is this a “first call”?
This first call is aimed at providing information and building an Internet-centered data base with names of K-12 and higher education teachers, librarians, technology directors and computer facilitators, and in general, to seek Net users that are in a position to make the postings available to teams of students. MathMagic’s success on FidoNet makes building this project on Internet a logical step.
What is needed?
This project is for schools who are presently using or shortly plan to use computers with modems. Direct Internet access is desirable (see NET-PROVIDERS file,) but in some areas, a local Bulletin Board System (BBS) or Net user may have to act as a go- between. Please ask about special arrangements.
Do participants “meet” each other?
Each registered team is expected to work with a NET TEAM PARTNER (NTP) who may be local, state, national or international. They must discuss solution strategies and agree on the solution they are going to post. A good measure of the success of the project rests on the “grass-roots” exchanges, when teams meet each other and exchange personal/school/city information.
How will the Internet be used?
The postings and some team exchanges will be made via a kind of listserv called a MAILING LIST (different commands, same principle.) The wonderful folks of the Geometry Forum at Swarthmore College have made their “majordomo” Mailing List server available to MathMagic, and as a result, registration will be fairly easy. However, most team exchanges are via e-mail.
How can someone participate?
There will be two broad categories of participants: REGISTERED and UNREGISTERED. All registered teams will be entitled to full access to all the list’s mailings, and will have the ability to “post” any question, comment or reply at any time. UNREGISTERED teams, on the other hand, can receive all mailings and read the exchanges, but will not be able to post directly to the lists.
Which are the lists?
Roughly corresponding to U.S. grade equivalency, the list are:
Again, anyone can subscribe to any/all of the “…-open” lists, but can NOT post messages until fully registered.
Is gopher or ftp available?
Anyone can gopher or ftp files from forum.swarthmore.edu. Look for specific instructions below. In addition, educationally-focused groups or sites make want to take advantage of Mathmagic as a newsgroup.
Is there a discussion group of benefit to teachers re/ MathMagic?
One of the most valuable lessons a teacher learns is when s/he can observe and discuss the student’s metacognition. For this purpose, a fifth list,
will also be available to schools of education, assorted profs, teachers, supervisors and in general to all interested parties wanting to discuss math learning and the student exchanges observed in these lists. As MathMagic itself develops, CONSTRUC- TIVE suggestions, observations and criticisms, along with any/all pedagogical discussions that may enlighten student/teacher (read old student) development will be welcomed. K-12 direct student input is not solicited in this fifth list.
Must registered users participate in all the challenges?
Since school calendars and holidays differ the world over, registered participants are not expected to address all challenges. Also, and as strange as it may sound, the “official” language of the postings is standard American English. Overseas participants are encouraged to adapt their colloquialisms (boot, lift, etc.) to ours (trunk, elevator, etc.)
What donation is expected for full registration?
Information about the nominal registration fee is forwarded to each person registering for one of the lists. It is also available under the COSTS-GRANTS file as indicated below. Please note that the registration form calls for the name of a faculty sponsor, and a team name. Each team’s name will consist of the sponsor’s last name (surname), a color, the school mascot, and city/state/country information: Hodson’s Gold Gators/El Paso, TX can end up working with Nahim’s Blue Tigers/Tel Aviv, IL.
What other “perks” are there for registering?
All registered users will receive a certificate of participation, incentives and have more privileges than nonregistered users. The world-wide postings of the student’s responses also act as powerful motivators.
How does a person subscribe/unsubscribe to MathMagic?
All subscriptions (registered and non) begin with a free subscription to one of the “…-open” lists. Send the following e-mail message:
TO: firstname.lastname@example.org (note majordomo's spelling) subscribe mathmagic-X-Y-open
where X-Y is either K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 or general. To UNSUBSCRIBE (when a user no longer wants to be part of the Mailing List) send the same message as above, but replace "subscribe" with "unsubscribe".
When does an “open” subscription become full registration?
After subscribing to any “-open” list a user will receive an acknowledgement and a REGISTRATION FORM that should be completed and returned to the address below. The account will remain UNREGISTERED until all aspects of the form have been received.
Who can answer more questions?
Alan Hodson, middle school math teacher with the El Paso ISD is in charge of the Internet component of the project. Write to him at:
Carol Hooper, middle school math teacher with Ysleta ISD is in charge of the FidoNet component. Contact her at:
What other informational files are available?
To receive more information on MathMagic and the files available, send e-mail (no “Subject:” needed) to:
Users can also ftp the MathMagic information files thus:
ftp forum.swarthmore.edu 'Username:' anonymous 'Password:' (your e-mail 'name'@) example: alanh@ 'Welcome to the Geometry Forum...' (whole page deleted) 'FORUM.SWARTHMORE.EDU>' cd mathmagic 'FORUM.SWARTHMORE.EDU>' dir (lists all directories) (or ls (for UNIX systems)) "FORUM.SWARTHMORE.EDU>' cd general (or any other directory)
Remember, to retrieve or "download" information to your system you must type the 'get filename' (exact spelling). To move up one directory type (at the > prompt) 'cdup'; to log off type 'exit'. (Don't type the ' ' marks) GOPHER access is also available:
gopher forum.swarthmore.edu (choose) 1. Forum's Archive/ (choose) 6. MathMagic/ (choose) 5. general.information (or any directory in that area)
At the end of each read text (or when you press spacebar) the footer will prompt to mail it. The user must enter his/her name as given by the system (example: alanh) - the mailer "knows" the "@..." part.) To move up a directory type 'u' and to end the gopher exchange type 'q' and confirm quit.
Some of the files that can be requested are:
registration-form sample-challenges sample-responses suggested-approaches fidonet-info fidonet-nodes mathmagic-faq (this list) net-providers ntcm-standards cost-grants and others
Are user-made "challenge" submissions accepted?
“Adult” involvement is an integral component of this project. Users with thought-provoking (ideally open-ended) word problems are encouraged to make their contributions available to MathMagic. The
guide can be obtained as outlined above.
Can MathMagic “make a difference”?
MathMagic Foundation is a non-profit organization for the development and implementation of innovative methods and technology to encourage youngsters to get involved in articulating math problems. To the extent that teacher-training programs and teachers in the field get involved, master and incorporate telecommunication opportunities like this project, programs like MathMagic can contribute significantly towards achieving NCTM standards and truly “literate” students. MathMagic also attempts to involve concerned professionals in solving some of our students weaknesses by making “challenge” contributions and engaging in the project’s exchanges.
Caveat Emptor (a personal note)
As worthy an endeavor as MathMagic may seem, it is “one more” time consuming commitment to a full-time job, the local board of a professional organization (AFT) and the usual daily distractions such as band boosters student accounts and the like. Presently MathMagic is NOT receiving any grants or stipends to allow for “extra” time to be dedicated to the project. Hopefully this will change in the near future. Please don’t expect IMMEDIATE service – be ready to match your professional commitment to finding viable alternatives to age old concerns with a good dose of patience! At least at the beginning…Ironic how we may be able to communicate across the world instantly, but still be slaves of our time pieces!
Happy (thought-provoking) Computing!
Alan A. Hodson
For additional information contact:
FidoNet’s Channel 2