Jun. 28th, 2012

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(Section 3.3)

Really, the textbook makes me cross sometimes! So we've covered parallelograms and trapezoids, and we know that the interior angles of a parallelogram or trapezoid sum to 180 degrees. So you'd think that the textbook would use this to introduce a bunch of facts about parallel lines, since they basically all follow from this. But no! So I went off road today and showed them how to get the parallel line facts from stuff we already know, rather than the way the silly textbook does it. So there.

Then is was time for another worksheet, and the 5 students who didn't present solutions yesterday got to do their solutions on the blackboards.

I also gave everyone an index card, and asked them to write down at least one thing about the way I was running the course that wasn't working for them, and one thing that was. I do this every semester I teach, and so far it hasn't gotten easier; it's still nerve wracking when they hand the cards back.

The feedback overall was helpful (it always is) and nobody hated everything, so that's ok. There are several students who need to get to work soon after class, and one of them wrote that he gets stressed if I go even a little over time, since he only has 20 minutes to get to teach his first graders. I'm going to see if people would mind starting/finishing 10 minute earlier; that should make things easier for all concerned. A couple of students mentioned that they weren't comfortable solving problems by themselves in front of the class yet, and would prefer to keep doing it in pairs/groups for a bit. I knew I was pushing them this week, so I'll ease off a bit. At least they've all done it once, though, so hopefully next time won't be so scary. There were a couple of comments about the length of the homework assignments (too long!). I'm not going to change that - I think Monday will be the day for my 'to get a strong maths brain, you have to do plenty of reps, just like if you want strong biceps, you have to do plenty of reps' talk. One student said that I could ask more questions during the 'lecture' portion. Will work on that - I do try, but at the same time I'm trying to get through the material quickly, so we can get on to interactive stuff. Which now that I write it down is just silly. Doh! After I'd graded the first homework set, I chose the best solution to each problem and put together an answer key from those; one student said she wasn't happy having other students able to see some of her homework. Since I'm spending too much time on the course already, I'd decided not to do that again anyway - it's quicker for me to just scan my solution key. So that's ok! Some students would like more time for asking questions about the homework; I need to factor that in.

The wiki, which has solutions to homework problems, the daily review, a gallery of blackboard solutions, and a list of definitions and facts learned to date, seems universally popular. Next time I teach this, I think I'll make the students responsible for keeping it up to date; to me it still feels a bit too much like my website, rather than the course wiki. They also like writing quiz questions and grading, and most people like that the focus in class is on doing problems, rather than just going over the required material.

So overall, I think it's going well. I'll address the problems that I can, and make sure to keep doing what is working. They write their first midterm next week, so we'll see how things are really going then. Eeep.

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