Category Archives: Current Issues

Post about issues in mathematics education

Join the first-ever Arizona Women’s Symposium in Mathematics!

The first-ever Arizona Women’s Symposium in Mathematics (AWSiM) will take place on Saturday, November 5 – Sunday, November 6 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
The conference will have plenary research talks and contributed talks where women mathematicians in Arizona can share their work. The symposium will include a workshop on teaching and equity in math courses, and discussions on recruitment and retention of women in mathematics. We hope that faculty, instructors, and some students will attend. Limited funding is also available to support some participants. Please share with other faculty.
More information can be found on the conference website:

AMATYC 2021 Community Project

Though the AMATYC Conference in Phoenix has ended, be sure to check out the Local Events Site to see the amazing outcome of the Community Project!

Thanks to the generosity of AMATYC members, the Kamanzi Secondary School will receive $7770 to help students. These funds will wipe out the outstanding debt owed to the school for books and materials for 100 students, purchase uniforms for 50 students, and buy feminine sanitary products for the female students! Words cannot adequately express the hope and relief this gift will bring to the families of these students, who struggle to put food on the table, let alone pay for school supplies and uniforms. Moreover, the entire Kamanzi community benefits when inequities are dismantled with books and materials put into one pool for everyone’s use, and for girls in particular who miss school due to insufficient menstrual products.

The AMATYC 2021 Phoenix Local Events Committee thanks all who donated to this year’s AMATYC Community Project.

Remembering Dave Graser (1965-2020)

By Kathryn Kozak (CCC, AMATYC President)

It is with sadness that I write today about the passing of David Graser. Dave, as most of us called him, was very involved in AMATYC. Dave was the digital products coordinator for Beyond Crossroads. He was also the chair of the Technology in Mathematics Education (TiME) committee and so he worked on the “Proctored Testing For Courses Taught At a Distance” position statement. He is the reason for this phrase “When tests are used as an assessment of student learning for classes taught at a distance” since his assessments in his classes were not tests and he wanted to make sure that faculty weren’t forced to use tests. Dave was always pushing the envelope in his teaching of students. Recently, he was involved in writing IMPACT and in the development of IMPACT Live! now part of myAMATYC ( AMATYC has lost an incredible volunteer and leader. 

Dave has been my friend for many years. I first met Dave at an ArizMATYC conference. ArizMATYC meets in conjunction with the statewide math articulation task force. Dave and I served on this task force for many years. We worked together integrating many of the ideas that we learned at AMATYC conferences into our state-wide mathematics curriculum. Dave was also the webmaster for ArizMATYC, creating and maintaining He was also part of the LEC for the upcoming AMATYC Annual Conference in Phoenix in 2021. On the lighter side, it is because of Dave and his love of beer that ArizMATYC bi-annual affiliate meetings start with a pre-registration happy hour at a local brewery. 

Dave taught at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, since 1998. In the words of the president of Yavapai College, Lisa B. Rhine, “{Dave}was tireless in his pursuit of improving how math was taught. Dave had a passion for teaching and mentoring and would go above and beyond for his students.” He used mostly project based assessment and had published a project based math textbook. The mathematics department at Yavapai College is grieving as much as members of ArizMATYC and AMATYC. Dave’s love of mathematics and teaching was second only to that for his family, whom he always spoke of with affection and humor. Dave is survived by his wife, Leslie and their 10 year old son, Bowen. Dave will be missed by many and certainly AMATYC and ArizMATYC have lost a gem of a person, and I have lost a dear friend.


Dave’s obituary and tribute wall can be viewed at


Comments from around the state:

I’m so very sad to hear this. He was a great man. I will miss his gentle teasing about not accepting Yavapai College’s job offer.  To honor him a group of ArizMATYC people were working to nominate him for AMATYC’s Teaching Excellence award.  He will be greatly missed. ~Laura

That is so very sad. I will miss his playful teasing, sarcastic wit, and outrageously funny stories. Math in Arizona lost a true advocate for mathematics and students. Please pass on Kristina and I’s condolences to his family and let us know if there is anything we can do to help his family financially.  ~Andy

He was so young too!  :(.  ~Matt

He was a great voice of reason in our meetings and an advocate for students.  I remember him talking recently of how valuable time was to him as a cancer survivor.  It is heart wrenching to know his time has come to an end, and a great loss to our ArizMATYC and Arizona community.  Will keep his family in my thoughts and prayers.  ~Laurel

Dave will most certainly be missed! He was funny, witty, talented, and a friend to all. While I had many opportunities to hang around Dave at ArizMATYC and AMATYC meetings, none were more eventful and fun than the time we spent together in the Jacksonville airport following the AMATYC conference. Our flight home to AZ was canceled after extreme delays and the journey to find alternate flights left us stranded together for hours. I will cherish the delirious laughter and airport shenanigans we shared on that trip. My thoughts and prayers are with Leslie and Bowen, his friends and family, and his colleagues near and far.   ~April

Extremely sad to hear of Dave’s passing. His last trip down to Tucson for the MAT142 conversation a year ago gave me hope he was doing well in the fight. My condolences to his wife and son. I always appreciated his viewpoint on statewide math and community college challenges. He will be missed. ~Jeff

This is devastating news…I also have appreciated David’s work to improve mathematics education. He will be missed indeed…  ~Scott

Dave will be missed. His joy in trying new technology was contagious. He always was advocating for students and never lost his desire to learn new things. His gift for sharing his ideas, his mathematical gifts, and his love of beer will be missed. Thanks, Dave, for all you taught me! ~ArizMATYC WebPadawan

Alternative Pathways to College Level Math

Over the past few years, several alternative pathways to college level math have been explored across the country. These pathways differ from the usual pre/beginning/intermediate pathways that traditionally prepare students for college algebra. Instead, they aim to prepare students for a course like college math.

The faculty at Yavapai College are in the process of developing a new course that will help students move from Prealgebra to College Mathematics as quickly as possible. Since College Mathematics enrollments are on the rise, this will help more and more students complete their mathematics requirements quickly.

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Regression Using Google Sheets

sheets_reg_01Not long ago, Microsoft Excel was the go to tool for making scatter plots and modeling data with regression functions. For the last ten years my students have used Excel to model data in projects. For many students wishing to use Excel on their own computers, Excel was an expensive purchase.

Other students wanted to save money and used ancient versions of Excel that were difficult to use. This was particularly aggravating to me since I had to help them find their models in Excel 2003, 2010, and 2013. The process was different in each platform.

This encouraged me to look at other ways of making pretty graphs with models. Google Sheets was particularly attractive because of its cost…free. Last summer Google added a simple way of adding a regression model to a scatter plot in Sheets. Now you can do just about everything you might want to do in College Algebra or Finite Mathematics in Google Sheets. And you get the added benefit of a single, free, platform in the Google ecosystem.

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PhotoMath: The New Killer App for Students?

Logo PhotoMath landscapeOver the past few hours, many news sources like CNN and Engadget have reported on the app PhotoMath. According to their website, this app claims

PhotoMath reads and solves mathematical expressions by using the camera of your mobile device in real time. It makes math easy and simple by educating users how to solve math problems.

Wow! What an enlightened view of how this app might be used.

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First Day Activities

redwood_01I guess all of you are also finishing off your first week or two of classes. Over the years I have spent less and less time going over the course policies on the first day. For me, the first day used to be an anomaly. I talked all of the hour and fifteen minutes and they sat. None of the subsequent classes would be like this. Yet this first day often turns students off and gives them the impression that my class is a one way communication channel. Many students may drop the class purely on the basis of that first day.

Instead of spending the entire class on the syllabus, I do fifteen minutes on how their grade is determined and then move on to an activity. For my college algebra class this semester, this activity had a secret motive. I decided to add to the group activities I do in class and make the projects in the class a collaborative effort. To make these groups effective, I need to get a feel for the students and how they work together. I wanted the activity to give me a feel for their personality…leader or follower.

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