Monday, October 10, 2005

Break from Routine

I LOVED having Friday off to go to a math workshop ... and then driving with a great "book on CD" for 3 hours to have a relaxing evening alone (me time) with terrific Vietnamese food (I would have licked the plate if it was appropriate) and then ANOTHER 3 hour workshop on Saturday to be followed by cool mystery book store shopping and a trip home (again with the hilarious book, Hard Eight, on CD). Today (Monday) we had inservice all day. I guess that's a Texas thing where the kiddies get off on a day early in each month, and we all get professionally developed.

It was meeting, meeting, meeting all day (with a mix of useful and such), so I still have papers to grade, but I beat the traffic, and here I am. Procrastinating.

The workshops on Friday and Saturday were useful really only because I was with other calculus teachers and through some persistent questions, got some good ideas/suggestions for one of my main concerns: how do you get the kids to go beyond just regurgitation of steps to solve a problem and to the state where they can use those "steps" to solve less straightforward problems without whining (too much).

I'd just given what I thought was a straightforward test, and they had bombed. They don't know that they don't know the material in some cases, so they come in all cocky and self assured. In other cases they don't realize that they DO know how to solve these "hard" problems, they just have to step back and think and realize what they know.

Some suggestions: 1. group quizzes structured so that everyone participates and learns and is held accountable. 2. a preview of all possible questions (challenging and not) to work through and study, and then they come into the room and blindly pick a question out of a hat to get graded on. 3. give 3 problems and they can pick the 2 to solve on a quiz. 4. BIG time curving so that they are not penalized if they at least try and make some progress. ...

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