One of my favorite activities in class involves the wireless carrier Verizon. The data for this activity comes from several years of annual reports published on the Verizon website. I have used this data in several contexts. In this post, I’ll demonstrate three of these activities. The first activity I use in the context of average rates of change. This activity is appropriate for a College Algebra or Calculus class. The second activity uses the same data in the context of marginal revenue. Finally, I’ll examine a point of inflection on the revenue at Verizon as a function of the number of wireless connections.

I originally planned this post to be about the Verizon Activity I talked about at MAA Mathfest. However, I decided to write about an activity I came up with on my way back from the Mathfest.

I 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. They take a syllabus quiz over everything and that seems to be a better way to get them to review what they will be held responsible for. 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. Continue reading Passive and Active Activities in the Flipped Classroom (Part 2)→

When I used to give 50 minute lectures in my traditional classroom, I struggled with keeping my students attention for the entire time period. Just about every student would “check out” for a few minutes to stare at the clock or check their email on their phone. Even the students who were focused on the lecture had a hard time taking notes (diverting their attention) and listening to what I was saying. Have you ever looked at some of your student’s notes? It can be a very ugly mess. Many students have never really learned how to take notes. They blindly transcribe what is on the board as fast as they can and it often does not really sink in. Continue reading Quadratic Functions Worksheet→

The activity I describe in the post on Continuous Tax Functions may be linked to real data to make an extended class activity. In this extension, students need to come up with the piecewise continuous function for a state. Once they have the function, they prove that it is continuous using the definition of a continuous function. Continue reading Tax Rates in NC and LA→