Monday, September 12, 2011

Math Again

Then, I was called to come back for two more days.  The second day, also a "block" day, was calculus - AP Calc AB (2 classes) and AP Calc BC (1 class) - and this was described as "basic math" - haha.
There were no explicit lesson plans, but I did find fairly complete assignment sheets for the calc classes.  Thursday I was supposed to give a quiz to the calc classes and then go over some basic techniques of finding derivatives.  Since I had been running around trying to find lesson plans, finding the quiz, and then copying the quiz, (each of these required walking back and forth through a very large building), I was late to the first hour class, which was freshman seminar.  And it was in a different room from what it said on his class schedule computer printout.  Fortunately, it was co-taught by another staff member, and she saw how frazzled I was, so she took the class and let me go back to the classroom.

I spent the next few minutes trying to make sure I could do the assignment after they finished the quiz.  When the first calc class came in, I took attendance and gave them the quiz - a two page quiz about applying the forward differentiation formula, the backward differentiation formula, and the symmetric differentiation formula.  While they were working, I was desperately trying to figure out the lesson.  He uses a book they don't have for proofs and their own book for the assignments, so I was a bit confused.  And I didn't notice for quite a while that the students were completely flummoxed by the quiz.  They could graph the functions using their calculators, but they had no idea how to use the formulas - which they did have in their notes, but which they could not make any sense of.  Since I had assumed that the quiz would cover things they had just done, I hadn't looked at the quiz and couldn't really help them.  One girl did seem to know what to do - and she volunteered to explain it, but by then, they were completely unable to listen to explanations.  So, I collected the quizzes and told them that I would figure out what to do about that later.  For now, we would just go on with the lesson.  They were not happy, but it was the best I could figure out.

The next class was the BC class and they seemed to understand the quiz much better (same quiz).  Once they were working and a few had finished and turned it in, I could look at the quiz and figure out what it was that they were supposed to do.  It really wasn't that terrible - they just needed some help getting started.  The lesson for the BC students was similar to the lesson for the AB students, so I could do that part, too.

Finally, the third calc class, another AB class, came in.  I put the formulas on the board; gave them some hints about how to use them, and let them work.  This class went MUCH better.  They still weren't very sure of themselves and many got the answers completely wrong, but they had a better handle on how to attack the problems, at least.  And I had done the lesson twice by then, so it went fairly smoothly.

The assignment sheets had a description of what he planned to cover in class and what their assignment would be.  That isn't exactly a lesson plan, but a lesson plan probably wouldn't have anything different.  So it was fine.  The problem was me.  It has been a very long time since I have done any calculus and it takes me longer to do the proofs and problems than I would have hoped.  The BC kids were pretty much OK with just a short intro and then just letting them work.  But the AB kids needed more help.  I don't think they understand the proofs at all.  In fact, I think the proofs just make them more confused.  It is almost as though they need to do a few problems to see if they can follow the formulas, and then, once they understand the formula, maybe the proof would make more sense.  Backwards, I know.  It would be interesting to see if this way would work better, though.

Friday was a so-called regular day - with all 7 class periods.  For first period, I apologized for not understanding that the quiz would be so confusing for them.  I then gave them the same type of help I had given the last class the previous day and let them re-do the quiz.  This went much better.  I then gave them a shortened version of the lesson for the day.  Not a great lesson, but it was the best I could do and it seemed to be enough.

The rest of the calc classes went pretty much according to the outline in the assignment sheets.  So they were fine.  But there still wasn't a plan for the geometry classes, so I just did the next lesson after the one we had done on Wednesday.  It was on translations, rotations, and reflections, and that is a fun lesson to teach, so all in all it was an OK day.

Then, on Saturday, I got called to sub again on Monday.  Since it isn't a good idea for students to have different subs, one right after another and since this job was a bit more challenging that most, due to the lack of explicit plans, I took the job.  And, I went back today.  It was another "regular" day, with all 7 periods, so I had all 5 classes.  By now, the calc classes, especially BC are getting a bit tired of me.  They have done a lot of the material before - this is mostly review - and I am not doing it especially well, compared to their regular teacher - and they can tell.  The AB calc students are still learning the material and those classes went OK.

With the geometry classes, though, I just did some more work with translation, rotation, and reflection.  The 2nd hour class was really pretty good, but the 6th hour class was goofy.  There were 3 guys in the class who were acting more like 6th graders than high school students.  That part was frustrating.

So, all in all, I survived 4 days of "basic math" (not!) and it wasn't terrible.  I hope he is well for tomorrow, though.

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