We're doing a short unit on parametric equations in precalculus, and yesterday I borrowed an idea from Foerster (how creative IS this person?) and was having them figure out the equations to draw all sorts of ice cream cones, cylinders, hemispheres, etc. I gave a little prep talk, and then handed them a sheet that had a great example and a definition of ellipse equations, and set them on their merry ways.
Well. How many times did I have questions and such about how to work the equation? How many times did I explain and walk them through how to read the definition and interpret what things meant/did? How quickly did I change my prep talk for my second (last & favorite) period?
So I think I'll be doing more of this where they have to learn how to read a math text. How scary would it be for them to graduate and be deficient in this way.