(Section 1.2, 1.3)
Started out by getting groups of students to present their answers to the worksheet problems that we didn’t finish yesterday. Groups of three or four, with one student in charge of writing it up on the board, one in charge of talking us through it, and the others there for moral support. Seemed to work well; encouraged the watching students to ask questions, and suggest alternative answers if they did things differently.
Then I talked way too much. It was a real lesson to see the difference in the students’ faces compared with when they were discussing things and talking amongst themselves about the worksheet problems. I’ve asked them to read the sections that will be covered each day, and make notes, so that it’s not all new and I can go through it relatively quickly. I asked questions as I went along, and did get good responses, but they still looked passive and bored. I'd been talking about measuring length - the concepts that go into teaching this at various grades, what students are expected to know when - and I was going to go on to talk about measuring weight and capacity - the next two sections - but realised that I'd completely lose the class. Instead I got half the class to put together a presentation on teaching weight, using the framework for teaching length that I'd put up on the board, which was in fact a general framework for teaching measurement (Introduce the concepts of units - with hands on experiments- and why they're useful. Introduce standard units, and how to choose the appropriate unit for a particular measurement. Express a measurement as a multiple of the chosen unit. Do problems.) Then other half of the class taught the measuring capacity bit. It worked much better - and there was much hilarity, since I'm completely metric, and they're completely customary. We swapped hints about how to estimate different weights, and worked together to come up with ways to estimate conversions.
Oh, and I started a new thing: each day someone will volunteer to be the chief note-taker, and will give me an at-most two page summary of what was covered the following day, which I’ll post on the wiki.
I also explained about the mysterious ‘quiz question’ question on the homework: every week, as part of their homework, they need to put together a potential quiz question for their classmates on some aspect of the week’s material, give a short description of what it’s testing and how, and write a ‘Teacher’s Solution’ with point allocation. They perked up and seemed enthusiastic, and said no-one’s every asked them to do that before, so yay! I wonder what I’ll get on Thursday with the first batch of homework. I told them a little about GeoGebra (which I have to say is just about the awesomest piece of free software I’ve ever found - go and check it out, math people. It rocks.), and suggested that they might want to play with it to make their quizzes. They looked skeptical. I’d like to run a tutorial on it in the computer lab because I think it could be a fun teaching tool, but I think I’ll leave that for another semester, after I’ve got the hang of things…