Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Three Student Interactions

Act 1: I have a stacked AB / BC Calculus class with about 13 BC students (and those with a mix of kids that took AB last year and some that haven't) and 6 AB students. We've all done the best we can (well, most of us), and I'm differentiating up the wazoo, and today was a topic I'd covered for some of the kids last year. So. I had a worksheet with 16 problems and let the "oldies" get started on it independently. I taught the "newbies" what's what, and we worked through 3-4 examples from the sheet. The rest of the worksheet was for homework. One of the "oldies" comes up to me after class and says, "I just wanted you to know that we only got through 6 problems, so if WE can't do it, don't expect the new people to finish their homework tonight", in a patronizing sort of way. Oh my. Get over yourself, is what I say.

Act 2: In that same class, at the end, I made the announcement that next semester, if they still want the AB designation, they may think of switching to the other period which is ALL AB and goes at a much slower pace (as it's designed to do). Something for them to think about. Also, if they wanted to stay in this period, they'd go on independent study and just review while I moved on with the BC students. So. Later on, a friend of some of the students in that class who does not have me for math this year, but comes by to visit as I've had her before, comes and says to me (in what I think of her ever so helpful voice), "I wish your BC class wasn't so hard that people had to switch down to AB". OH MY. What was today? Give advice to teacher day?

Act 3: I guess my speech the other day about passive learning actually sunk in to some students. A kid that is bright but has been coasting (and not to well) on his former success in math by just breathing, is not doing so well in calculus with his old ways. We had a discussion about his notes and about how he could use them more effectively and such, and he seemed genuinely surprised at the suggestions, like it had never occurred to him to read over his notes every night to refresh his memory ... or to go back and look at examples in his notes for suggestions on how to do problems. He mentioned something about, "well, hmmmm, maybe I'm being a passive learner like you had said." Hopefully, this will spur him to action.

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