Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm blogging this from work (hello, school computer person!). I debated about whether or not I should. It's an appropriate use of school resources, as I use this space to reflect upon and improve my teaching, but its possible, and maybe even likely that it is not really so anonymous. (I don't have internet at home and so wanted to get this down before I forget)

Level 3 algebra II-
I've started the new problem centered unit (Baker's Choice, a stand-alone unit from the Interactive Mathematics Program). I started it yesterday and it went fantastic!

ALL the kids were working - the ones who find my class too easy said the problem was "hard". The ones who find my class boring seemed to like having something to sink their teeth into.
The ones who often find my class difficult had parts of the problem that they understood and could even explain to others. These are level three kids ("standard" in other schools) that in general hate math. It went so well that about half of my second section chose to work on the problem through their break. Unheard of.

Another advantage was that I was MUCH less tired at the end of the day yesterday, as this time the kids did all the work. It s a very non-traditional way of teaching. You start with a real world situation. They "play around" until they have a great understanding of exactly what's happening. Then we apply the math, or describe the situation symbollically. The "traditional" approach often gives a symbolic statement first, and then tries to apply the real world situation. My kids tune out at the first hint of symbolism, and so forget about applications.

The challenge will be to ensure they truly get the same content overall, taught to the same standards. (i.e. do they understand the different methods for solving systems of linear equations, and can they use each effectively?) So, we'll see how it goes.

That was yesterday. Today has not gone so well. I had 3 sections of geometry today. I wasn't so prepared for the first section. (They were supposed to take a test that I have not even made up yet.) All I had them do was 5 problems on the board that covered everything that would have been on their test. They self-scored it, and only one third of the class got above 80%. Maybe its a good thing I wasn't prepared. After that I let them work on their projects, the rough draft of which is due Thursday.

In my other two sections we were reviewing triangle midsegments, medians and altitudes. it was obvious the kids had not reviewed their notes at home, and so I gave them, in addition to the regular quiz on isosceles triangles, a pop quiz on medians, altitudes and midsegments. Then we began triangle inequalities. I have been having a very blah day, and so of course the lesson did not go so well. We were breaking up uncooked spaghetti, trying first to form triangles with the segments and then NOT form triangles. My teaching and explanations were just not very clear, partly because I didn't review and/or prepare enough, and partly because I am just so worn out. (Teaching with a new baby at home is CRAZY!!!)

Tonight and this weekend my goal is merely to catch up. I kid you not, I have a 12 inch stack of homework, tests and quizzes that need correcting. I still have stuff from first quarter that I keep forgetting to give back. One of my main, though uninteresting goals as a teacher will soon be to have nothing from the kids for more than a week. Give everything back within one week. Maybe I will do that (a week sounds like a long time, but I am VERY bad at this). Every stack of papers I collect I'll put a sticky note on with the day I collected it and the day it is "due" to give back. Eventually I would try to work up to giving it back the next class day (Each class meets every other school day).

Ahh. What a dream.

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