Tuesday, May 30, 2006

5/30-end of the semester

I think that this has been one of the most effective semesters that I have had in four years of teaching. This is especially ture with my Advanced Algebra classes. I think that a majority of the students had a better understanding of the materials that we were covering because they were able to get specific questions answered by their peers each day. The students also were able to use a variety of methods for assessment that showed their understanding of the materials. In the past, I have used assessments as a means to make the students understand the material before the test, put pressure on them to prepare for test and show how well they know it on their own. The grades on these tests have declined in the three years that I have done it this way. This year I did not worry as much about the grade and the pressure of a test and I tried to allow the students to learn along the way and find different ways that they can be successful on the material besides one test on their own. The sruggles that I had this semester was having the same types of successes in my freshmen classes. The students in that class would not ask as many questions and seemed that they had more trouble adjusting to working with partners. The testing did provide opportunities for them to show an understanding, make corrections and realize more of their mistakes that they were making on tests. I would like to continue to give a variety of testing strategies but I need to figure out how to be more productive with all of my classes during the partner time. I am happy with most of the changes that I have implemented this semester and I am eager to continue to adapt my class to make my students more successful throughout the years.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I tried yet another way to assess the students in a non-traditional manner. I could see that some students were still struggling with some steps in graphing parabolas. A quiz or test usually forces them into asking the questions that they need answered. I gave them three problems to do but I did them one at a time. The first one, they were able to work with partners to get through the problem. I then gave them the answer to this problem so that they knew if they did it right and could ask their partner for help if the did not. I then had them work individually on the next problem but they could use their notes and anything that they wrote down from working with their partners. The last problem, they had to work on their own without any notes to get through the problem. It seemed that the students asked a lot of questions that allowed them to progress to the point that they could get through the problem on their own. All of the problems had the same number of points (which I might consider changing in the future). It was a last minute decision, but I think it worked well.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


End of the year frustrations are setting in to my classes. I have been talking to my Advanced Algebra classes about this latest unit that we are doing. I have tried to show them applications of where they are going to use the math, but it has not seemed to make much of a difference. I gave them a quiz that many of them failed. I talked with them after because they have not been doing as well in their groups asking questions and staying on task. Many of the students have forgotten what has been working for them so far this semester. They are struggling to understand the material that we are talking about but can not see the connection with the lack of effort and questions to reach an understanding. I feel that I cannot (nor want) to hold their hands for the rest of the semester to make sure that they finish strong. I will continue to warn them and encourage them to stay on the righ track but I do not want to turn in to a babysitter. I want them to learn the material but at this point I feel like the students that are doing the work have an understanding. With the other students, I feel that I could spend the rest of the summer doing this same stuff and they might never ask a question. I do not want to hold up the other students to suffer because some of the students have decided not to work at the end of the year.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

I worked with the internet in class a bunch today. I was talking about earthquakes in Advanced Algebra and I used information online to look maore into the practical side. I had a student that asked about the largest earthquake and he was able to do a search for the class to show where and when the earthquake happened. In Algebra, I was talking about parabolas and I fould some online applications on a website. One of the applications was talking about a large reflective building in the Pyrenees Mountains. They were wondering what the building was used for so I had one of the students search the internet. She was able to find that the building used the mirrors to produce a large solar furnace for energy. The internet helped the students get more involved in the lesson today and I need to find more ways to use it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I gave my Advanced Algebra students a quiz over one section out of the book that we spent about 3 days working on in class. This was the worst grade for most of the students in class. They have stopped asking questions on their homework and are content going through the motions of writing things down to get the homework done. Since spring break, they have been on coast with their learning. The things that have been working most of the semester is not working now because the students perception is that school is over for the year. How do we keep the effort and learning consistant throughout the year?