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> Maths teaching

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Interesting debate on work ethics

2008-02-23 15:55:00

Here's an interesting question for you: if we want our kids/students to put in effort in their work, why don't we do the same? Isn't that a bit two-faced?

Case in point: my own studies. It's been suggested a few times that I'm working myself into my grave at school, by putting so much effort into each and every assignment and report.

It's true that, for most of my reports, I put in extra research that isn't needed. Without said research I feel that I'm doing a half-assed job, because I wouldn't completely understand the subject matter. I enjoy studying extra materials from a field that I'm only in the process of entering, because without them I feel less confident. I've even been complimented on my efforts by a teacher or two.

However, now people (both teachers and fellow students) are suggesting that I could save a lot of time by skipping all that research. "Just find the answers to the questions and move on." "Don't bother with all those nice looking reports." "Do you really think someone's going to read a 25 page paper every time you submit one?"

Now, I'm not disregarding their suggestions, because it's certainly true that I could do with a little spare time. Too much work and no play and all that. So yes, I will start accepting 60-70% as a good score as well.

However, the problem I have with all of this is that we would -love- to have our students go apeshit over their course material! We'dn love it if they got totally enthused about maths, or english lit, or PE. So why are we so quick to jump to the "easy road" ourselves? That just feels illogical to me and actually a little bit like a betrayal as well.


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OS X 10.5.2 broke some stuff

2008-02-13 06:55:00

Well carp! It seems that going from 10.4.11 to 10.5.2 in one go has broken a few things on my Macbook. Most notably, my FileVault home directory refuses to mount D:

Checking things out with fsck and Disk Utility Provides the following:

Checking catalog file.

Invalid key length.

Volume check failed.

Disk verification failed.

Ouch. Luckily the encrypted sparseimage will still mount, so I'm using rsync to copy all of my data out of the home directory. Thank Dog I have an external FW disk lying around. Also thank Dog that I make a backup recently :)

Remember kids! Always make backups!

Also, it seems that the tablet driver for my Wacom Graphire4 is incompatible with 10.5.2 as well. It was working nicely with 10.5.1, but not it's borked out :( I guess I'll have to wait for an updated version.

Oh well... While my Macbook is copying all of my data, I'll go have breakfast.


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I taught my first class today

2008-02-07 15:50:00

The Cals College in IJsselstein

Oh. My. God. I was so nervous this morning, it's unbelievable!

This morning I headed over to the Cals College in IJsselstein, to teach a class for the first time ever-ever. Before that, I had an appointment with the school's student care coordinator, to discuss another school assignment. Fifteen minutes before my class, I was in pretty bad shape though. Crampy stomach, cold and clammy: also known as "nervous".

The same went for the first two minutes of my teaching: I had a shaky voice and kept losing track of my story. After that though, things were fine :)

The students in my classroom were nothing short of awesome. Just like my classmate had predicted, they were very kind ^_^ They were very attentive and they were fast on the uptake. They all managed to finish the whole stencil of assignments, with only a few making minor mistakes. I couldn't have wished for a better class.

<dutch>

Klas 1DLW, heel erg bedankt voor vandaag! Ik ben heel erg blij met hoe het is gegaan en had geen betere klas kunnen vragen voor mijn eerste les. Heel veel succes nog met school en misschien tot ziens :)

</dutch>

One point of important feedback that Gineke gave me: at this level of education, the questions I ask to verify the students' learning process are too open. Instead of asking if everyone gets it, I should ask more closed questions to see if people give the correct answers. Were this VWO instead of VMO (uni-prep as opposed to vocational school), -then- I could've asked open questions.

Of course, there was more feedback, but I'll put that in my report for school. This will be published in the School section in a few days.

Here's a snippet from the videotape I made for my portfolio.

NegGetal.mov


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A sneak peek into my class

2008-02-05 22:36:00

Here's a little taster of the stuff I'll be using in Thursday's math class. I'll be introducing the kids in a VMBO-BL class to the notion of negative numbers, which can be quite a challenge. I mean, how the heck do you explain to a twelve year old that there's something smaller than zero?

Of course, people will immediately point out things like temperatures, debt and years B.C. Thing is, those are only examples of negative numbers and they don't explain how or why. They just show that it's possible, but a child may not instinctively understand how these figures work.

So, this should prove to be interesting! The picture shown above is part of a stencil I'm putting together for the students. It's part of the first assignment they'll be making, pointing out the height at which various objects reside. I'm very curious about how it'll work out :)


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Our kids don't need to learn fractions

2008-02-02 08:41:00

Or apparently that's what prof. DeTurck of Penssylvania-U thinks.

DeTurck does not want to abolish the teaching of fractions and long division altogether. He believes fractions are important for high-level mathematics and scientific research. But it could be that the study of fractions should be delayed until it can be understood, perhaps after a student learns calculus, he said. Long division has its uses, too, but maybe it doesn't need to be taught as intensely.

From:

USA Today

and

Good math, bad math

Of course, like many others I believe this notion to be nuts. Decimals have no meaning unless you know what fractions are. It'll be like handing a bunch of powertools to a carpenters apprentice and asking him to build a house. Oh, you don't need to know what everything does, just get to work...

As a future maths teacher I'm scared by this idea. And it's not just limited to the US. A dutch prof by the name of Kees Hoogland shares DeTurck's opinion that kids should be learning less longhand maths and should instead be focusing on using the calculator. Why? Because they'd be stupid not to use the modern materials at their disposal. *sigh*

I've started a forum discussion about this, over at Ars. Obviously, it's gotten some pissed off responses ^_^

EDIT:

In response to my thread over at Ars, GwT has started a new thread asking how important math is in general.


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