Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to Business

So, personal stuff aside, I've had some things brewing that I wanted to address.

1.  I offered my precalc kids extra credit to write their own trig identities - had quite a few take me up on it! (Shocking.)  Some really went for it, some basically wrote down an identity and thought it would suffice.  Definitely something I need to include as an actual assignment next year!  I was also thinking about doing a gallery-type walk with identities... you write a step to simplify then move on to the next one.  Still pondering that one.  (Here are the identities!  Take 'em as you will.)

2. Algebra 2 is a major bore right now... and I'm definitely the culprit.  We're finally hitting some of what I would consider the "real" stuff and I feel like the kids are in major resistance mode.  My plan is to throw in a little project (probably this one that I like to do in precalc) but the class has taken on a whole new tone. It used to be fun and lighthearted.  Now it's quiet and BORING.  Heck, even I'm bored!  But I so want them to get the basics down - we're just talking about graphing polynomials (which includes factoring & finding zeros).

One of my problems in that class is that I have 5 new students that I'm still trying to figure out.  There are 3 in particular that have posed some challenges.
1.  A move-in from Florida who has passed Alg2 and is auditing this semester because she obviously has no idea.  She's very cute and likes to talk and flirt. Awesome.  We had a little chat yesterday when I informed her that if she doesn't keep a passing grade and complete all of her assignments I can get her removed from our class. She was shocked.
2.  A transfer from the other high school in my district. He seems like a nice, hard-working kid, but his teacher over there was in chapter 3... and I'm in chapter 6.  (Don't ask what they've been doing all year, because I don't know.)  He told me that he knows how to factor but doesn't know how to solve quadratics.  Hopefully we can fix this before it gets too overwhelming - he admitted that what we've been doing in class has been a jumble of numbers.
3.  A transfer from our local vocational school.  She seems very sweet and hard-working but has a lot of personal issues going on and is only in school for 2 classes a day.  After solving some polys today I stopped by her to check how she was doing and she started crying. Says she has no idea what's going on. When I started offering help and suggestions she totally shut down and said "I don't want to talk about it."  I tried again, she repeated.  Ouch.  I stopped by the counselor's office to let him know; he's planning an informal chat tomorrow with her - I'm hoping that she'll be more receptive then.

So these 3 + boring me + hard stuff = a tough going.

Just gotta keep trying to make things better!


rachel said...

I really like the idea of having students write their own trig identities. Identities are on the horizon for my Precalc class... and it's the first year I've taught Precalculus so I'm constantly in the market for some creative ideas.

completely random: Is that your handwriting on the document you posted? It looks like a word doc, but also handwriting, but also wayyyy too perfect to be handwriting. Yes I know this is a dumb question.

KFouss said...

I've taught precalc for a bunch of years and never thought of having them write their own before. Unfortunately, for as much as I love identities, there's not a whole lot of stuff to do with them.

Yep, that's my writing. :)