Friday, January 24, 2014

Portfolio Project in a Proofs Course

In a post on this blog dated August 13, 2013, I expressed my opinions about the importance of writing in the introduction to proofs course.  At Grand Valley State University, our introduction to proofs course, MTH 210 Communicating in Mathematics, is in the university's Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) Program.  Following is a description of this program that I include in my course syllabus.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Couple of Requests

As many of you know, I am the author of a book for the Introduction to Proofs course.  My book is Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof.  I have made this book available to download for free using a Creative Commons License.  You can download the book at the website for the book.  A soft cover version of this book can also be purchased for less than $20 at

Request #1
Advertising is one of the difficulties with an open-source book.  There are websites that give lists of free textbooks, but there is usually no information from users of the book.  So my request to those of you who have used (or are using) the book to send me a short quote about the book or a longer review of the book.  I would like to include these quotes and reviews on the website for the book.  You can make the quote or or review as a response to this post or you can send it to me at  If you do so, please include your name and affiliation so that I can include that with the quote or review.  If you prefer to have it be anonymous, just tell me so and I will post it that way.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Updates for Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof

Before I describe a few small updates to the materials that are available for Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof, I would like to remind people to check out the List of Approved Open-Source Textbooks that are available through the American Institute of Mathematics.

In preparing for class this semester, I revised the study guides that are available for Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof.  These guides are available of the web site for the book.  In addition, because "flipping" a proofs course can be a difficult and time-consuming thing to do, I have written short fact-based quizzes for most sections of the textbook.  I usually give these quizzes at the start of class.  (Students are supposed to study the section of the textbook along with the screencasts that are available for the text.)  Instructors who would like to obtain a copy of these quizzes and their solutions, should contact me at

Friday, October 25, 2013

Too Much Content?

A friend of mine recently posted a link on Facebook to the following blog post:

This has the provocative title "The Death of Math."  Side note:  The use of the word "math" tends to bug me.  In formal writing and public writing, I always try to use the term "mathematics."

This is a fairly long post and what I want to focus on now is one of the two recommendations Mr. Rubenstein makes to "fix mathematics."  This one is:  Greatly reduce the number of required topics and to expand the topics that remained so they can covered more deeply with thought provoking lessons and activities.  (The second recommendation is to make mathematics beyond the 8th grade into electives.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Version 1.1 of Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof

With the fall semester now in full swing, I am finding it very difficult to find time to think about topics for this blog and to write posts for this blog.  So this one is short.

I have released Version 1.1 of the textbook Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof.  There is no difference in content between this version and Version 1.0.  I have made only two changes:

I have added a "Note to Students" that comes before the preface.  I do not know why this took me so long, but it is quite clear that students do not read the preface.  So I wrote a short note that explains the features of the textbook to the students and what they can do to effectively use the book.  Please use the link above to download this note and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Study Guides for Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof

In a post on August 25, I indicated that I was working on study guides for each section of Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof.  I have now completed study guides for the book through Chapter 5.  These can be downloaded on the website for the book at

I hope students will find these useful tools to help them with their study.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

LaTeX Workshop in Class

In a post on this blog on August 14, I indicated that I was going to require my students in the introduction to proofs course to use LaTeX.  This is the first time I have done this.  I am quite nervous about requiring the use of LaTeX because I am not sure how the students will react to this.  Students seem to be quite comfortable using a word processor and it is usually not too difficult for them to then incorporate the use the equation editor.  Most students have used MS Word and some used Open Office.  I am not fond of the equation editors in these two word processors, and I often encourage my students to use MathType, especially with MS Word.