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Asking for a friend, this seems generally useful given #distanceLearning right now. Below is her message in a quote block followed by my response.

I am using Google Classroom, G-sheets, G-Docs, G-Forms, to teach my 8th graders remotely.
These are the issues I need help addressing.

1. I need an efficient way to view student responses in a homework assignment. I am already using G-Forms, but It doesn't have the capacity for certain things.
2. Students need a way to type their equations, and math steps into their assignment. Math symbols are not always accepted on the differing google platforms.

Here is the assignment I am working on right now. It is the Pythagorean Spiral.
I can easily upload the pdf instructions to the Google Classroom assignment.
I can screencastify a quick tutorial to post on the assignment.
My problem is the table/chart that the students will type their answers into.
I am attaching that chart (its on the second page) so you can see what I am talking about.
I have considered re-creating a fillable table in a Sheet template for each student, but the cells don't accept equations, only formulas.
I have considered a Google Doc, with a recreated fillable table. I can insert equations, but I don't know how students can type equations and radical symbols, etc. They need an accessible way to type an equation easily.
Ideally I would like their work to dump into something like a spreadsheet, like a Google form does.

Here's that youtube vid I saw.

Some thoughts from our conversation,
- Having students write the table by hand and take pictures 
- Annotate the pdf

My proposed solution:
Students could do the table in google sheets and include two columns, one for the formula "3*SQRT(2)" and one for the value "=3*SQRT(2)"

Here is what it would look like:

|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|
|        LEG 1        |       LEG 2      |    HYPOTENUSE    |       VALUE      |
|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|
|          3          |         3        |    3*SQRT(2)     |   4.24264068733  |
|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|
|          3          |     3*SQRT(2)    |    3*SQRT(3)     |   5.196152423    |
|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|
|          3          |     3*SQRT(3)    |    3*SQRT(4)     |         6        |
|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|
|          3          |     3*SQRT(4)    |                  |                  |
|---------------------|------------------|------------------|------------------|

Edit: I've shared the question on Twitter, Math Educator StackExchange and on Reddit (mathteachers, matheducation). I've included this point for interested readers to see additional responses.

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    $\begingroup$ Why not use LaTeX? It might seem a little overbearing (and admittedly I've used it very seldom myself), but it's more than capable of doing all of it and it's not as complicated as it seems. It's typically just a simple Google search for latex using _X_ symbol has always been enough; the first Google result shows me exactly how to do what I want. latex-project.org $\endgroup$ – searchengine27 Apr 22 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ I would dismiss photos proper entirely. There are doc scan apps that flatten the image and render much more legible results. Besides that, what's wrong with handwritten notes? It makes cheating more difficult, and does not divert student's attention to some markup language. $\endgroup$ – Quora Feans Apr 22 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ What is the point of asking students to make the spiral? Is it teaching drafting or drawing skills? Explaining how to mark a 1-cm border (really? THIS has to be explained?) Color it to make it pretty? If school math teachers had a proper program to follow, they would not have to invent idiotic homework like this just to show that teachers and students are not slacking off. I would rather spend an hour on a couch with a fiction book. P.S. Your hashtag soup makes me think that this is a brazen attempt of self-promotion. $\endgroup$ – Rusty Core Apr 22 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the hashtag feedback. I removed them. The original purpose was to share those communities with my friend, and I agree it doesn't provide context for the question. I believe the point of the activity is to get students to practice the pythagorean theorem many times and generalize from a pattern to define a function and the artistic component is meant to increase engagement over say, a worksheet with 20 examples. However, the heavily guided nature of this task makes it feel like fake fun. $\endgroup$ – E_Rushton Apr 22 at 23:02
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In a Google doc, one can "Insert/Equation" (marked by $\pi^2$). Then tiny pull-down menus appear in a top bar:

enter image description here

Using these menus, I just typed this nonsense:


      equation


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  • $\begingroup$ This looks like the simple solution needed, thanks! $\endgroup$ – E_Rushton Apr 22 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ Joseph - with that single, elegant equation, you just solved the riddle of faster than light travel! Einstein would be proud. $\endgroup$ – IconDaemon Apr 24 at 12:14
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Consider to just review scanned or photographed handwritten homework. Yes, this is not as easy as looking at typed work, but consider: would you require typed work normally? So why now?

If your main objective is just a completion grade (or something fast like an overall plus/check/minus grade), this should be sufficient. I would argue against ever doing detailed parsing of drill homework anyway. A completion grade is sufficient (or even not grading homework at all, if you have frequent tests).

While requiring kids to do typed work (and even special typed work given the need for symbols) appeals to the LATEX luvverz, I consider it an additional hurdle to just working the drill work itself. I suspect your completion rate will be significantly lower than if you allowed handwritten work. Is the ease of grading and/or higher feedback you give for those who do this typed work worth the loss from kids that don't do the drill at all? (This is a practical optimization question, not a quantitative math problem.)

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    $\begingroup$ +1. Sadly, many teachers are accepting or even requiring typed work, and explicitly do not accept works written in longhand. I think it is wrong on many levels, I don't want to expound this or I will get all wound up. $\endgroup$ – Rusty Core Apr 22 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ I so rarely agree with you, but in this case, I think you hit the nail on the head. Performing computations in a mathematics class is one skill. Typesetting mathematics is another. In my own courses (for undergraduates, not 8th graders), I encourage students to type their work---I offer minimal extra credit and hold additional "TeX Workshop" office hours---but I never mandate typewritten work. My students already have enough to worry about, and the only ones who actually need to learn to TeX are those going to grad school. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Apr 23 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson I require sharelatex homework assignments when I teach Abstract Algebra. Students have a texed senior project, and I feel this class is a good place to get a jumpstart on learning tex. $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Apr 23 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenGubkin Indeed. At the moment, I am a lowly graduate student and occasional adjunct, so I don't get to teach very many upper division classes. I imagine that if I were teaching a class where the majority of the students are mathematics majors and future graduate students, I would be more insistent about the use of TeX / LaTeX. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Apr 23 at 16:50
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I put this as a comment, but maybe it deserves an answer to prevent it from being dismissed outright. My comment:

Why not use LaTeX? It might seem a little overbearing (and admittedly I've used it very seldom myself), but it's more than capable of doing all of it and it's not as complicated as it seems. It's typically just a simple Google search for latex using X symbol has always been enough; the first Google result shows me exactly how to do what I want. LaTeX Project

To expand a bit more, I wanted to demonstrate. In fact, fun enough, StackExchange uses a form of LaTeX, so I can do it quite easy!

  1. $$x(t) = x_0 × (1 + r) ^ t$$
  2. $$log(x(t)) = x_0t + log(1 + r)$$
  3. $$\frac {log(1000000) - log(46000)} {log(1 + 0.12)} = t$$

is literally typed out as

  1. \$\$x(t) = x_0 × (1 + r) ^ t\$\$
  2. \$\$log(x(t)) = x_0t + log(1 + r)\$\$
  3. \$\$\frac {log(1000000) - log(46000)} {log(1 + 0.12)} = t\$\$

Saying this is easy isn't generous enough. And in fact, for middle school to high school, everything I've put here is probably all you'll ever need to type out. Maybe for high school calculus you might have to do integrals, so here's that just to prove it works $$\int_a^b \! f(x) \, \mathrm{d}x$$ which is typed

\$\$\int_a^b ! f(x) \, \mathrm{d}x\$\$

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    $\begingroup$ You mean, backslash log: $\log{x(t)}$. I think introducing LaTeX to 8th-grade students is a stretch. $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Apr 22 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Joseph. The specific example I am sharing is coming from an 8th grade class learning the pythagorean theorem. The understanding of functions is limited at that age in the U.S., so while a functional interpretation of something like frac{a}{b} is well within the grasp of a 14 year old learning about functions, it is at a high level of proficiency that most U.S. 8th graders don't reach given how we teach the function concept. I do feel that teachers can benefit from using TeX for handouts, tasks and such. $\endgroup$ – E_Rushton Apr 22 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ Think in terms of a random selection of people, not a bunch of motivated STEM students. Would a random person in the grocery store be able to pick this up quickly? What about your relatives? Would they all be able to get this easily? $\endgroup$ – barbecue Apr 24 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't think we should be catering to the will of student's wants. If I knew everything I wanted to learn, I would only know the characters of my favorite movies. When I was a student, I had a poor GPA because nobody 'made' me do anything I didn't want to do. I did whatever I wanted, and my grades showed. It was only after service in the United States Marines that gave me a drive of any kind. What students or my lazy relatives want to do is of no concern to me. We should be inspiring the future leaders to do new things and grow, not stagnate. $\endgroup$ – searchengine27 Apr 24 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not naive enough to not know that not everyone has tenure and a secure job, and because of the way the system is set up, that sometimes pandering is an unfortunate artifact. But in the general case, we should be pushing children to grow and try new things. I'm not even a math educator, but I'm honestly tired of hearing the general population say things like "when am I ever going to use math in my life", when we all know how necessary that kind of skill is to do even the most basic of tasks. $\endgroup$ – searchengine27 Apr 24 at 14:56
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If you want to use LaTeX you should check out www.mathcha.io. It's a very user-friendly editor. It allows for LaTeX /HTML/pdf export.

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If you are open to using solutions beyond GSuite, you could consider tools like GoFormative or Edulastic which have easier equation editing features. I would rather use their ‘Show your Work’ question type which is basically a simple whiteboard students can draw or scribble on. I use GoFormative through Google Classroom.

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Edulastic will do all of the things you're looking for and is free. You can embed a YouTube video into the question for students to watch, then create a numeric question with a table. There's a math editor with a big range of mathematical symbols both for building questions and student answers. Edulastic automatically grades the work and you can see it in real time. There's also an "Express Grader" which shows student answers and/or scores in a spreadsheet type format (and you can download to csv). It syncs with Google Classroom, so you can share assignments with students there if you use that. Hope this helps!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the tip. I will give it a try! $\endgroup$ – E_Rushton Apr 27 at 0:09
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Similar to another answer, but different enough to be worth answering in its own right:

We're about to start marking undergrad (physics) exams as typed text plus handwritten equations and hand-drawn diagrams, photographed and uploaded. This would seem to be a reasonable hybrid approach, and access to cameras has never been better

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