Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hand Holding vs Solid Examples

I feel like a flippy-floppy fish on this whole topic, but I guess I could "spin it" as I'm readjusting my attitude as I gather more data. For the last few days, I've been studying statistics for the N.B. exams I had to take today. I went right to the source and bought a prep book for AP Statistics. Since it's a prep book, they don't TEACH every topic in depth, they just review it and do SOME examples and then give practice tests. ... Maybe not the best way for me to review something I haven't seen in ... oh my ... 16+ years.

I found that as I was learning one of the topics, they kept describing each piece/terminology of it in many ways and then building on and then redescribing each piece/terminology, and I found myself saying: JUST SHOW ME A SOLID EXAMPLE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. And then I had to laugh and say, "oh what, you want them to HAND HOLD YOU through the stuff? can't you piece it together yourself for the joy of learning?"

"Gripe 2": there were SO many new vocabulary words that I'd understand in the context while I was learning it, and then when the book refered back to such a word, oh say 50 pages later, I was thinking, "yesssssss, that SOUNDS familiar, but holy cow, don't ask me to use it in a sentence other than: _____ is a word related to statistics.

All this to keep circling back to the topic of how my (any) students learn and retain math. I guess mostly I write this, so I can get over my uppity self and keep in mind that learning anything new and hard for students is, well, hard, and students should be provided with scaffolding and good-humored reminders that they're doing something hard and should pat themselves on the back between note-taking and problem doing and such. AND teachers should keep this in mind and keep spiraling back to old topics and bla bla bla.

Friday, June 06, 2008

WooHoo! The School Year is Over

The students' last finals were on Wednesday 6/4/08. We had to come in on Thursday to check out, and our graduation was held in the early afternoon. I went in on Friday to finally clean up the rest of the clutter in my classroom. And now ... I'm at home completely done. Whew. As usual, it sneaks up on you and is over before you know it. (unless you're still in school, and then it NEVER seems to be over)

I had a bit of drama (still ongoing) with a parent EXTREMELY upset because of my grading policy for the last 6 weeks. Ultimately her child got an 87% for the semester, but that's not acceptable to her, and I've ruined her child's life, and she'll be speaking to my administrator to make sure I don't have this opportunity EVER again to do this to another student. Deep breaths. I've talked with various other teachers and friends and have calmed down a bit, but obviously I'm still bitter.

In brighter news: I've started "playing" the guitar (and by playing, I mean random strumming and posing and trying to look cool while screechy sounds eminate from the instrument as my tongue sticks out of my mouth to aid in better concentration) and am self-teaching myself (that sounds redundant) via books and cds and dvds. It is so fun.

I'm also planning on making a simple big-square quilt for our guest room this week, so that when my friend visits, I won't have to subject her to the 80's style black-neon-pink-&-green-&-purple syntheticy cover.

Calculus project news. I liked how my volumes of revolution foam projects turned out. BUT. I have an idea I want to play around with for a teaching tool for next year. I'm thinking of getting card stock or laminated color paper and cutting the same shape out many times. Then I'll either cut a hole in each one or a slit in order to string all these shapes onto a circular thin wire or stiff cardstock that is curved into a circle. Then I can "fan out" the shapes or clump them together, and the students can get a better visualization of a "volume of revolution". I'll have to experiment this summer.