Communicating Mathematics at the JMM

The Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, January 9-12, 2013, will feature a number of sessions devoted to the communication of mathematics, starting with a minicourse and continuing with the MAA retiring presidential address, an invited paper session, and a contributed paper session.

MAA Minicourse: Teaching and Assessing Writing and Presentations: Collaborative Development of Pedagogy

Part A, 4:45–6:45 p.m., Wednesday, January 9; Part B, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friday, January 11

Presenters: Susan Ruff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Mia Minnes, University of California, San Diego; and Joel Lewis, University of Minnesota

Description: In session 1 we break into groups to characterize “good” math writing and “good” math presentations and to create sample materials for assessing student work. Session 2 is about how to teach students to communicate math effectively and will focus on participants’ specific interests. Existing resources will be presented from the mathematical communication pages of the MAA’s MathDL website, and open questions will be discussed in small groups. The session concludes with the optional formation of working groups to address open questions using available tools for collaborative development of pedagogy. Participants will leave this highly interactive minicourse with a strategy for grading math writing and speaking, a clearer understanding of their own priorities for teaching math communication as well as the diverse priorities of other math educators, awareness of the wealth of resources for teaching mathematical communication available through MAA’s MathDL, and, if desired, collaborators and a plan for addressing open questions in how to teach mathematical communication.

MAA Retiring Presidential Address: Communicating Mathematics

Friday, January 11, 2013, 9:00 a.m.-9:50 a.m.

Speaker: Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College

Description: Mathematicians don’t just “do” mathematics. They communicate our subject, too, by speaking, writing, teaching, illustrating, editing, explaining, and professing it, for expert and nonexpert audiences alike. Words, pictures, equations, and other media may be well or poorly suited to the special purposes of mathematical exposition, and mathematical exposition may be good, bad, or indifferent, depending largely on its audience. But, as I will argue with examples, mathematical exposition is at its best “real” and valuable mathematics—and no less challenging or deserving of professional reward than other forms of mathematical activity. Mathematics is a big tent, and its vitality and growth depend on contributions from many directions.

MAA Invited Paper Session: Writing, Talking, and Sharing Mathematics

Saturday, January 12, 2013, 8:00 a.m.-10:55 a.m.

Organizer: Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College

Speakers (tentative): Barry Cipra, Frank Farris, Gerald Folland, Allyn Jackson, Dana Mackenzie, Jessica Sklar

Description: Mathematicians not only do mathematics but also communicate it to others, experts and nonexperts alike. Speakers in this invited session will address diverse genres, audiences, and challenges of mathematical communication: books, mathematical reporting, journal editing, mathematicians in popular culture and the arts, how mathematicians talk mathematics to nonmathematicians, the language of mathematics, pedagogical exposition, and so on.

MAA Contributed Paper Session: Communicating Mathematics

Thursday, January 10, 2013, 1:00 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

Friday, January 11, 2013, 8:00 a.m.-10:55 a.m.

Saturday, January 12, 2013, 8:00 a.m.-10:55 a.m.

Saturday, January 12, 2013, 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Organizers: Brian Katz, Augustana College, and Elizabeth Thoren, University of California, Santa Barbara

Increasingly, college graduates are expected to have a suite of communication skills in addition to the technical skills specific to their majors. Simultaneously, pedagogy at many high schools, colleges, and universities is shifting toward student-centered methods that require students to write and speak more in their math classes. This session will include scholarly presentations on (1) successful methods or assignments designed to improve written or oral communication skills and (2) the consequences of using writing and speaking in class for the students’ skills, attitudes, and beliefs.