I'm a teacher in Milwaukee and have enjoyed your website since discovering it about two years ago. But I have a suggestion I would like you to consider. Although I am currently teaching primarily 9th and 10th grade math classes, my experience includes teaching 12th grade honors classes and A.P. classes.
HOWEVER, like most people, I suspect, I still come across an occasional problem that stumps me. I like to think of myself as a problem-solver, but you occasionally present some that not only stumps me but every member of my department!
Now for the question/suggestion: While the type of unique challenges you devise are one of the factors that brings me to your site, I believe it also leaves some of us uncomfortable presenting them to classes. Personally, it's one thing to present these kinds of unique challenge questions to a bright class of students eager to try various approaches, but it would be a preferable situation for most of us to be able to feel completely confident writing them up on the board. It would help us teach the concepts more clearly. And even when we do have that confidence on our own and are prepared to tell students whether or not they've solved it, that does not always mean we have the kind of deep understanding of how or why we took the series of steps we did.
To your credit, you do eventually post clear explanations along with the answers, but you typically do not post them until after the holiday it pertains to, or at least until after the teacher would normally have given it to the class.
I appreciate your motivation, which (I think) is to make your site different from the others where the teachers can either mindlessly walk in with the answer sheets all printed out beforehand and experience none of the challenge themselves, or you wish to avoid the surprisingly common scenario where a parent or sibling somehow obtains a copy of the teacher's edition or the 'inside version' from a relative who teaches in another school or nearby district, etc. Your system does indeed keep things pure in that way, BUT...
Would it be possible to come up with a system that is more sacred than the ones your competitors use, which students find so easy-to-hack-into, or with the answers so readily obtainable, yet reduce some of the stress for teachers presenting the material. I bet you could find a way to get the materials into the exclusive hands of teachers who would find them useful.
I realize that the other 'competitors' to which I refer are big businesses, with the main purpose, it seems, of making the lives of teachers as free from mental work as they can be. I appreciate that you have tried to avoid that. I also must be honest and note that you have placed an obstacle in your own path. Your slogan, 'All the world's problems solved for free'. I think a prudent approach would be to keep the "free" part for students. But I think a lot of teachers would be willing to pay for your time and effort making sure – somehow – that there is a security system enabling them to get access to your approaches and tips before they are made fully public, so that they can confidently present them in their own classes in their own way. Have you /would you consider altering your approach to include such a feature?
Thank you for your unique site; I know that my department always looks forward to seeing what you'll come up with next!
J. B. Mc C..
Dear J.B. Mc C.,
What interesting timing you have!
Yes, yes, and yes!
As you may have noticed, for the first time since we launched the website, we at Adler-n-subtract.com have taken a short hiatus from publicly posting questions and answers. We've continued to do our utmost to respond via private email to the usual 200-to-300 questions that come in each day (which, by the way, would be impossible without the help of our small and close-knit staff and a couple of phenomenal interns -- one of whom, incidentally, is preparing to leave us to begin her freshman year at Yale University, where she has been accepted for this coming September.) We've put the public posting of almost all such correspondences on hold while we consider making certain alterations in our still young site. Believe it or not, this past December 14th, which was less than two months ago, we celebrated our second birthday! To me, at least, when looking through the archive of questions and answers and the variety of places we come across our site's name, the whole situation is astonishing.
The part that I find most astounding and personally satisfying, is that when one goes on Google or Yahoo's search engines and simply types in: creative math products (or) creative math techniques, Adler-n-subtract.com almost always seems to pop up in the number one slot, far above all the math sites I have long admired! Life certainly presents its share of mysteries!
Anyway, we now, finally, have come up with a way to deal with the situation while remaining true to our original vision.
To pay for some of the website's upkeep, for a while we sold a number of items, but that never interested me as much as the question and answer part. So, after my book of mathematical mnemonics, "110% Recall" sold out, I developed a homemade version which I download to any teacher, student, or parent who requests a copy and sends in a check for $5. It continues to sell steadily. (To obtain the mailing address for such checks, just email us and both your email and your and our repsponse will be known to no one other than the 2 of us.)
NOW: The answer to your question regarding the receiving of explanatory answer keys to our tough challenge questions, : Any teacher who would like to receive answers and explanations via private email will, from now on, receive exactly what they request. All a teacher has to do is write a short request (as specific as possible) in a private email to us and he or she will immediately receive the requested material. Now, for this special service there is a ONE-TIME annual fee, which is less than half the amount our biggest 'competitor' charges, and in this way our website can remain true to its mission of "all the world's problems solved for free"AND provide this extra service to those who request it.
So, a ONE-TIME check of $12 will give any appropriate person one year of this service, PLUS all the other questions they would like answered, etc., even if they come from other websites – and all these correspondences will be via private emails in both directions. For TWO years of this service, the fee will be a ONE-TIME charge of $24.
NOTE: ALL CORRESPONDENCES SENT IN TO ADLER-N-SUBTRACT.COM GO STRAIGHT INTO MY PRIVATE EMAIL AND HAVE NEVER BEEN POSTED UNTIL AFTER THE SENDER MAKES IT CLEAR THAT HE/SHE IS FINE WITH THAT. SO THERE IS A HUGE, SOLID WALL BETWEEN INCOMING EMAILS AND WHAT WE (I, REALLY) SELECT AS A POSSIBLE ONE TO POST.
One can either send a personal check or use Paypal, etc., whichever is more convenient, though, for some reason, personal checks seem to be working particularly well.
If you have any questions about any of this, simply contact me through the website, and I can assure you that neither your name nor anything else (including your question) will ever go anywhere other than my private email.
I hope this helps.
To expedite the new plan, we will begin by relying on the honor system --however, as time allows, an intern will check out each person, and any student and/or parent who does not qualify IN SOME legitimate way, (i.e. home-schooler), will have an added challenge getting into the college of his/her choice! Cheating is something that I cannot condone.
Answers will arrive on your screen immediately upon request as well as other similar problems (also answered) if, for example, that is what you desire..
Regarding the student-posing-as-teacher scenario, I am an optimist and am not anticipating any such awkward situations.