Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Prepping for Saturday teaching 

I'm in the midst of getting my first two weeks' worth of lesson plans, handouts and homework assignments written for my Saturday teaching job. I've got my topic lists written for the two classes (trigonometry and algebra/geometry), so now it's on to the detail work. When I first started working on this, I was thinking that the trig class was going to be much more fun than the algebra/geometry. After all I've practically taught nothing but algebra for the past year and the geometry is going to be a bit too ACT-based for my tastes, but I would do my best to work around that.

But at this point, I'm thinking that algebra/geometry will be a lot of fun. I've made a conscious decision that the students will do proofs, even though this can't be justified within the ACT-centric framework of the program. I just think that the ability to do proofs is far too important to neglect. In fact, in general, I think that proof-writing is an essential aspect of geometry and schools which teach a proof-less geometry are clearly short-changing their students. It would be far better to spend two years on the material (or better yet two periods over one year), than to leave out the proofs.

The other thing that I've done to revise the class from the original outline is to move much of the algebra out of the lecture and into the homework. Part of each homework assignment will be a daily assignment in which the students will do an ACT-style word problem which employs their abilities to do algebra. I'll make these a big part of the in-class quizzes and exams to make sure that they don't just skip those problems.

The trig class will still be fun. The homework assignments will be big on discovery and will have them learn some important formulas and rules by working out in a scaffolded matter the bases behind those formulas and rules. For example, finding the formula sin a+b= sin a cos b+cos a sin b can be done using some basic rules of right triangle trig that the students will have worked with in the first week and some fairly simple geometry.

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