Sunday, November 04, 2007


I want my precalculus students to know (at least) sine, cosine, and tangent of all the special angles (at least) in the 1st and 2nd quadrants by heart and quickly. Therefore, I told them early last week that they will have a daily timed quiz with 14 questions that they know in advance, and they have to answer ALL correctly in a set amount of time. I took the 1st one with them and told them I'd double my time and that would be their time. It turns out they have 2 minutes for 14 questions. Doable. I keep giving them a pep talk. You can do it. It's not brain surgery. I'm not smarter than you, I've just been doing it longer. Study. You only need to be able to do each question in just under 10 seconds each. And so on.

They get a 0% until they get all right in 2 minutes, then they get 100%, and they can take it as many times as they need to in the remaining weeks of the 6 weeks. I've already had 3 kids pass in the first few days, and many are close.

Then there are those that seem to make no progress. They don't study for it, and they don't memorize (yet?).

Then there are the 2 boys I caught cheating with the weird "oh, let me look at my palm while I'm taking the test. What a fascinating life line I have." ... or "oh, let me look down at my lap, what a great leg I have.". I stared hard at the boys. I stood by the boys. I didn't say anything directly to the boys. They did not pass, and were nervous while I was standing near or looking at them. Why didn't I say something? But now I can no longer trust them. I also mentioned to my OTHER 2 classes about the cheating without naming names, and discussed how that was trust lost and very hard to earn back.

Blach. I should have a palm check before the quiz, or a stand up and let me look at your lap check. But how silly and weird.


  1. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Do you do the radical-0 over 2, radical-1 over 2, radical 2-over 2, radical 3-over 2, radical 4-over 2 business?

    I forget why it works, but I know it works. I think it may help with recall.

  2. Anonymous5:00 AM

    There is a cool finger trick with your left hand where the thumb is 0 radians and your pinkie is pi/2 radians, and you count the way you mentioned for sine. I didn't teach it to them this year because I was trying to get them to visualize the reference triangles in their heads. But, I may mention it later if this quiz idea doesn't go well.

    Thanks for reminding me of it.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. I've never heard of those tricks... dang, and we've already covered that for this year.

    I caught a precalc kid cheating - he'd written some formulas on his calculator case. Like he didn't think I would notice him continuously checking the cover?

  4. Similarly, I "made" my pre-calc kids memorize the entire unit circle. There were a few who looked like they enjoyed doing it.