Well, I guess I’ve let myself get busier than I wanted to this term, and blogging has been left by the wayside. I shall make an effort to do better next term.
Reflections on this term:
My school is on the trimester schedule (we used to be on A/B block–I don’t really know how I feel about it yet…that’s a different conversation for a different day) so today was the last “regular” class day with my students. We have two days of finals, then I get a brand new group of kids and a new set of preps.
This term I had 3 sections of (non-AP) probability and statistics. I started the term using Interactive Notebooks for the first time, thanks to a lot of advice and help from my twitter peeps. I don’t think I maintained the left side very well…I realize that take some serious planning and, while I had a couple of shining moments, overall I struggled to find and grade effective assignments. However, the right hand pages went over very well. These too took some planning, but this planning caused me to seriously think about what I was teaching and what would be the most effective information for the students to record. Instead of simply starting a lecture and writing until I got to the end, I had to focus. Keeping each day to a single page wasn’t as hard as I originally thought it would be. Using foldables also helped in that endeavor. Students paid more attention to their notebooks this term than ever before. They paid attention to what page we were on, what they needed to get from when they were absent, and (for the most part) tried to keep things organized and neat. The foldables also provided “brain breaks” at strategic times during class. Even offering just a couple of minutes to cut or paste provided the rest some of them needed before moving on. Several balked at the “coloring” requirement, but I still think it makes their notes more interesting and memorable, so I’ll probably stick with that in the future.
My favorite unit of this term was when we covered correlation. We started with the correlation stations mentioned in my last post. This allowed students to get a “feel” for correlation before really studying it. It also provided me with some great data to use as we went through the rest of the unit. From the stations, we discussed (in very general terms) the idea of ordering our graphs…with a bit of *gentle* prodding, my students put the graphs in order, from the most strongly negative to the most strongly positive. This provided an excellent launching point for studying the correlation coefficient. Since the course was non-AP, we just used the graphing calculator to calculate it, and this led us straight into linear regression. I felt a bit rushed, and the latter part of the unit didn’t go quite as swimmingly as the first, but I definitely have a good unit to build upon in the future.
I sucked at teaching probability. I gather activities from all over the place, and I dream of teaching probability in an engaging, but “fun” way–using real data, having students participate in simulations, etc. I read blog posts from other teachers about all the fun stuff they do with probability…but I just can’t seem to make the leap from fun activities to the mathematics of it. Drawing poker chips from a bag without replacement is okay, and if I had time I would have done something like that…but when I have to get from there to the methods for calculating the probability of dependent events, or conditional probability, I just can’t seem to do it. Definitely a topic I need to keep studying and developing.
And I didn’t get through everything. Not really sure how that happened…I thought I was on a good pace, but yet the end of the term came before the end of the material. We made it through about 2 full units, and bits and pieces of two more. Twelve weeks really isn’t very long, in the big picture.
So, there you have it…my first twelve weeks in a nutshell. Now I have to gear up to start over. Next term I will be teaching AP Statistics and College Algebra. I’ve been pouring over blogs and websites looking for good AP material for quite a while now. I have a lot of random material, now its time to turn all that into cohesive units of study. My personal “new term resolution” is to blog more so I will have a better record of what I did, what worked, and what stunk. If you don’t hear from me soon, send a search party.