Friday, December 08, 2006

"What are finals?"

I have a German exchange student in one of precalculus classes, and this was her question. Soon to be followed by, "are they hard?" after I'd answered the first one.

I'm trying to promote less passive learning since I see the trend at this school is: what's on the test? are you going to give us a review packet? oh! SATs on Saturday? Did I study with a workbook or online? No, why would I do that?

My first review assignment last week was: create a list of at least 20 topics that we've studied so far (I prompted them for suggestions on where they could find such crazy information: book, notes, test, homework...). Number the list, and by each topic write 2 things: approximate date "learned" (tee hee), and E/M/H for the difficulty level you experienced then and/or now on topic.

My next review assignment: choose 10 of the most challenging topics for you, and on an index card on the front write topic and a representative problem. On the back write a correct, worked out solution and maybe some hints to yourself. "make it worthwhile for yourself. don't just do it to complete this assignment."

I talked with them about passive learning and gave them a pep talk about, "you could probably write the final because think about what I'm going to do: make a list, pick some representative problems ....". I guess I just want them to reflect on the topics, and even just the act of writing the 10 index card problems will jog something in their memory. I'm also hoping that this will give them an idea of how they can study independently in other classes/schools/college/SAT...

This weekend I want them to practice their cards ... and yes, I'll have some review material next week and spend some class time ... I don't know what else I'll have them do with their cards and such, but I should do something.

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