Monthly Archives: October 2013

Slowing it down… maybe the wrong move?

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Film Title: Despicable MeWalking with kids on a field trip, I observed that they will always be 20 steps behind you. I urged the leader to speed up, as he was walking at a snail’s pace and clearly was frustrated (being the fit and healthy guy that he is). Sure enough, the kids sped up, but were always 20 paces behind.

I wonder whether we slow down and cover less material only to have the kids slow down too. Will they always be 20 paces behind? I plan to have the same argument as last year with my principal, when I continue to accept work from the first marking period after they close out the district grade-book ( because I know how to run a spreadsheet). He did not seem to understand the argument that I don’t mind if the kids learn it in September or December, as long as they learn it. It seems to fly in the face of U.S. High School philosophy.

Meanwhile, I have started the Corusera “game theory” course that was sent as an advertisement after Jo Boaler’s course. I’m drowning. Clearly, I am not about to become a master manipulator. Drat. I have already given up any idea of getting at least 70%, and that’s only after the first problem set.

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If it is math, then it must be my fault.

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Next week we are starting the logic part of Geometry. Thanks to Direct TV ads, everyone has seen syllogisms. So my plan is to have kids make their own. Honestly, I wanted to see this – I made it as a project, but I can’t get anyone to do projects, they all want book-based work. Our principal is an English teacher, and he wants everyone to do a writing project. So I plan to use this as my writing project.  And  video-creation project. I hope thereby to avoid the usual whining about why we have to write in Math.

We shall see.

Last week we had the first test using Webwork. I was introduced to this by a math professor. The advantage for me was that it gets students used to working on complex problems from the computer, writing out their work. Since we’re going to have to do that next year for common core, ti seems like a good plan to use this format. The grading is easy, retakes are easy (for me!) and my students liked that I included the feature that they could grade their work and then fix their errors.

I also see that the calculators for smarter balanced are available to use, so I will try and get my students to use these too.

In the last week, we have had 2 teachers collapse with stress-related symptoms. Somehow this has to stop!