YouTube Video Math Education at WIU

Jim Olsen's Home Page
James R. Olsen, Ph.D.
Western Illinois University
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Exciting News: WIU has recieved a $1.4 million grant to recruit, support, train, and place STEM teachers in the high-needs school districts around the region, state, and country. This Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program  will provide teacher education majors with scholarships for the junior and senior years. Click here for the flier. Click here for the webpage and to apply.

Annual Western Illinois University Mathematics Teachers Conference was held April 14, 2023! We had a great turnout. It was fun to again have teachers at WIU, excited about professional development.  We look forward to again hosting the annual WIU in 2024.

We are excited to announce that our new Master of Science in Teaching Mathematics degree has been fully approved. This masters degree is designed for current teachers of secondary mathematics and the courses will all be offered in an online format.  More information here.

The Many Rich Meanings of the Geometric Mean - Presented at the Annual Meeting of the NCTM, in Washington, DC, October 26, 2023.

Math Olympiad at Macomb Middle School - In October 2023 we began Math Olympiad at Macomb Middle School.

Hands-on Division with Fractions for Student Understanding - Presented at the ICTM Annual Conference in Naperville, IL, October 7, 2023. Links to the handouts and slides for the presentation can be found here. (or use

My Top Eight Reasons for Using Technology to Help Students Learn Mathematics, with Examples of Each - Handout and Slides. Presentation at the Mini-Conference on Secondary Mathematics Teaching, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

The Many Rich Meanings of the Geometric Mean - Presented at the 69th Annual Western Illinois University Mathematics Teachers' Conference, April 14, 2023.

Materials for Promoting Problem Solving and Experiencing the Beauty of Mathematics - Poster Presentation at Educating the Educators III international conference in Freiburg, Germany, October 7-8, 2019. Handout of problems.

Online Teaching of Math and Technical Subjects Series - Three sessions, fall 2019, given for CITR at WIU. Top 10 Suggestions, Sept. 26: slides; handout. Zoom Videoconferencing, Oct. 24: slides; Introductory Zoom, Sychronous example, Whiteboard example. WesternOnline, Nov. 14 slides; handout.

Converting to Online Instruction: Workshop on WesternOnline and Google Hangouts Meet, hosted by Jim Olsen on March 16, 2020 for Math and Philosophy Dept. Slides here. Video part 1 here. Video part 2 here. Notes page here. Workshop description here.

Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness Act - Statewide Transitional Math: Competencies and Policies - PDF updated 2021 (released August 2018). CCSSMWIU is an accepting university for both Transition to STEM and Transitions to Quantitative Literacy/Statistics courses. See the IBHE website and WIU Math Placement website. More information: PWR Transitional Math. Main PWR Act website. See also the Portability Dates & Decisions page ("sorted by school district") for the current list of schools that have approved transitional math courses. FAQ

Deepening an Understanding of Division and Problem Types - Handout , Student handout, and Slides for presentation by Kim Hartweg & Jim Olsen at the 68th Annual Western Illinois University Mathematics Teachers' Conference, April 12, 2019. Link to GeoGebra, Division I app:

Look For and Make Use of Structure, Symmetry, and Similarity - handouts (pdf) for presentation at ISMAA at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, March 30, 2019.

Slides for presentation titled, The Conceptual Understanding-Procedural Fluency-Problem Solving Trifecta in Mathematics: Helping Students Learn, presented at the Educational Essentials Conference, Sept. 21, 2018, at Western Illinois University.

Look For and Make Use of Structure, Symmetry, and Similarity - handouts (pdf) for presentation at 34th Annual Conference on Teaching Mathematics at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Feb. 21, 2019.

Handouts and Slides [ICTM] for presentation titled, Beautiful Geometric Diagrams and Connecting the Mathematics Beneath, presented at ICTM, Oct. 19, 2018, in Tinley Park, IL.

Slides [WIU Math Ts Conference] for Look For and Make Use of Structure, Symmetry, and Similarity, presentation at the Annual Western Illinois University Mathematics Teachers Conference, April 13, 2018.

Slides [Math Club] for Some Rich Geometric Diagrams and Connecting the Mathematics Beneath, presentation at the W.I.U. Math Club, April 11, 2018.

Slides [Valpo] for Some Rich Geometric Diagrams and Connecting the Mathematics Beneath, presentation at the TRISECTION MEETING of the Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan Sections of the MAA, March 23, 2018.

Adding Teaching Endorsements Now Easier in Illinois - Once a teacher has a PEL (Professional Educator License), adding endorsements (even in at a different grade level) has become easier in Illinois. ISBE page.

Logic for Middle School - web site created by Jesus Aguirre, Alejandro Rangel, and Jim Olsen of Western Illinois University - this is a new (therefore under construction) web site. This website provides geometry problems which are mathematically beautiful in their own right, and which also help our students reason mathematically, see connections in mathematics, and improve problem-solving abilities.

Math Education Research and a Plethora of Committee and Government Reports - Originally compiled on the occasion of the Common Core State Standards (the reports were the precursors for the CCSS). Updated periodically.

The 24 Percent Tweets project is 24 quick lessons on percent.  Click>>24 Percent Tweets for the information webpage with links. I hope you can use this to teach or learn about percent and its applications.

Mental Math Curriculum Course Specific Mental Math Curriculum - For Eighth Grade and for Algebra I. 30 worksheets each, teaching 30 strategies.  Free download.

CCSSMCommon Core Math Standards: Information, Links, and Resources


24 Percent Tweets

Math Contests at Western Illinois University For Middle School and High School Students - This is as ongoing initiative at W.I.U. Get your students involved!

Volume and Surface Area Webpage - Prisms, Pyramids, Cylinders, and Cones

PFD Boot Camp (Percents, Fractions, and Decimals) and Basic Training.

RATES Project - Real-world Applications Teaching Everyday Solutions curriculum development project

Math Fundamentals - How ~ Why ~ Games ~ Practice

I am a professor in the Mathematics and Philosophy Department at Western Illinois University. I teach mathematics courses and teaching methods courses for prospective and practicing teachers. My research interests are student understanding of the function concept, educational uses of technology, and problem solving. For more detailed information, click Info on Dr. O.

The header graphics:

Some additional things of interest:

  • Two or our recent teacher education graduates in middle school math and one of our masters graduates are all teaching at East Moline's Glenview Middle School. It's a great story how these guys have a love a teaching students and a love of math.
  • A new scholarship program is available for WIU teacher education students. The Great River Teacher Corps (GRTC) program recruits and develops highly talented teachers to work in schools in West Central Illinois. Click here for details and to apply online. Take advantage of this great opportunity. Be a Teacher! Make a Difference! Flier here. News release here.
  • There is much good information in the Sketchnote by Tanmay Vora @tnvora. I was particularly interested in interleaved learning. See this page ( for more information and links.
  • Geodesic Domes are real cool. You (and a group of people) can make one in less than 2 hours out of newspaper and masking tape. The AlWood Science Club built one. I've built them with teachers and with students. To learn how click here. To learn more about Geodesics Domes and Spheres Page click here.
  • Wir sind ein Volk (We are one people) - In 2015, a 2 Euro commemorative coin was released commemorating the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. The Berlin Wall going up, and coming down, in my lifetime is a big deal. The coins show people celebrating in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin. Also on the coin: on the edge of the coin: EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT (Unity and Justice and Freedom), 25 Jahre Deutsche Einheit 2015 (25 years of German Unity25 years of German Unity). A number of years ago I made a PowerPoint on the Berlin Wall, chronicling the history of the Wall (my perspective). Berlin is one of my favorite cities. The Wall came down in 1989 and Germany was reunified in 1990. I have the 2 Euro coin and a LEGO model of the Brandenburg Gate in my office. Stop by and see it.

WIU Home Page ~ Department of Mathematics and Philosophy

James R. Olsen, Ph.D.
I am retired (as of 7-1-23) from the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy
Western Illinois University
Morgan Hall 454
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Page URL: 
Now on the secure server (HTTPS).
Old (past) announcements archive.
updated: February 27, 2024
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The ultimate goals of mathematics education are to find meaning and to solve problems.

Love ~ Learn ~ Engage ~ Empower

Frank and Ernest (comic), by Tom Thaves, is often subtly profound with a light-hearted approach. "You just need an outlet" - which provides power - has meaning on multiple levels.

You Just Need an Outlet