Brownie (small portion)

24 May 2015 / Leonardo Barichello

This recipe is based on this other recipe by Jamie Oliver. I needed a few trials to adjust to a smaller scale, so I can do it only for me and my girlfriend and we eat it all in the weekend.

I would say it serves 3 to 4 people.

50 unsalted butter
50 g Lindt sea salt dark chocolate (after lots of tests, this is the best option in my opinion)
15 g chopped nuts (optional)
25 g cocoa powder
35 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
100 g caster sugar
1 medium free-range egg

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a small baking tin with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl over some simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate and mix until smooth. Add the nuts, if you're using them, and stir together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar, then add this to the chocolate and nut mixture. Stir together well. Beat the egg and mix in until homogeneous (the mixture will look a little bit greasy).

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. This is the tricky part, because for me the quality of a brownie depends on the consistency: almost crunchy outside and a bit gooey inside. In my oven, after some trials, the perfect timing is: 20 minutes with fan.

Remove immediately from the oven when finished and allow it to cool in the tray before serving. I like to serve them at room temperature (so, prepare it about 1 hour before serving) with home-made chantilly and port wine.

Software for transcriptions: oTranscribe

16 May 2015 / Leonardo Barichello

If you are using interview, probably you are going to transcribe them. Since there is no software to do the actual transcription, it is important to find a good tool to help in the process. My suggestion is the web app oTranscribe.

screenshot of oTranscribe

It is open, free and offers the basic commands to help a regular person to transcribe audio: shortcuts for the basic commands, such as pause, rewind a few seconds and add timestamp. The software exports the transcription to friendly formats and access your audio file locally (avoiding ethical issues).

It is quite simple and quite effective!

PS: If you use and like, check if it is available on your native language. If not, contact the author (just look for his email in the first page) and help to project by translating it. It is just a few short sentences.

Tangram of thirds

01 May 2015 / Leonardo Barichello

I am not a big fan of traditional uses of Tangram (related to Arts or Geometry), but I find it an interesting tool to introduce fractions through visual resources. This approach seems adequate to be used after rectangular models in order to introduce the idea that the pieces not necessarily have to have the same shape. But, it has the limitation of offering only fractions with powers of 2 as denominators. This characteristics can be positive at first, but can become a limitation after some time and that is the point when this "tangram of thirds" can be useful.

tangram of thirds

The pieces in the image above are fractions (of the whole square) with multiples of 3 as denominators. I decided to share this idea because I couldn't find anything like it online and because I believe it may be useful for enthusiasts of visual resources in mathematics education. You can download files with the Tangram of thirds in the links below:

Image with fractions | Image without fractions | Tangram made with Geogebra

Some tasks that I think could be interesting using this resource:

Introduction: given the whole square with the pieces drawn on it and 2 of the smallest triangles, find the fraction that each piece represents of the whole.

Halves: are you able to build half using one set of pieces in three different ways?

What are case studies?

28 Apr 2015 / Leonardo Barichello

Case study is a common expression in qualitative research and the use varies enormously amongst time and researchers, and, sometimes, its meaning is just taken for granted.

After some time also using the expression vaguely, I found the chapter So, what are case studies? in the book What's wrong with ethnography?, by Martyn Hammersley. The author has published many books about research in education, therefore, his ideas must be seen as part of a whole set of ideas and definitions.

What I like about him is not only the quality and clarity of his writings, but also his opposition to the traditional division between qualitative and quantitative research and his straight forward definition of terms that are used quite often (and losely) in educational research, such as ethnography and case study.

In this post, I will present briefly his definition of case study by presenting the following scheme he suggests in order to describe a research design:

research design according to Hammersley

From the scheme above, it is clear that the author uses a "much narrower definition of case study than conventional" (p. 185). The author considers case study as one of the options for selection of cases together with experiment and survey. Then, to characterize the strengths and weaknesses of a case study, the author compares it with the other two options.

Mainly, comparing case studies to surveys, the author argues that there is a trade off between number of cases (then, representativeness of the sample) and amount of detail (then, degree of likely accuracy). When comparing case studies to experiments, the authors argues that there is a trade off between degree of control (then, possibility of coming to sound conclusions about causal relationship) and degree of reactivity (then, artificiality of the results).

I imagine that his ideas may sound simplistic for some people involved in educational research, but they are very coherent specially when one takes into account all of Hammersley's ideas about research design.

Rererence: Hammersley, M. (1992). What is wrong with ethnography? Mixing Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Research. Routledge.

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