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

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Good day teaching 

Algebra was the best I've taught, period. I'm still not entirely happy with the classroom layout. I have no blackboard space at all, just the overhead, so I can't have a principle displayed and easily demonstrate it. But I've got a pretty good sense of how to organize the class with the limitations. My happiest moment was when one of the students expressed displeasure with doing math as a sophomore that people she knew had done as an 8th grader. It reinforces part of what I believe: That a two-year Algebra I sequence is a mistake.

Geometry, my Ed professor came in to observe me and for the first time in 6 classes that I taught at the high school I had too little material rather than too much. Oops. Class ended at 2:20 and the students had all largely finished their homework by 2:05. So I improvised a bit. We were learning about perpendicular bisectors, so I linked what we did with the perpendiculars today with yesterday's medians and Tuesday's isosceles triangles, plus last week's right angle trig. Since they haven't had triangle congruence yet, I was able to show them that we can see that a median is only a perpendicular bisector if the triangle is isosceles as well as the converse.

The professor was very pleased with my teaching. It was a nice remedy to yesterday's despair.

I'm thinking that if I were to come up with the alternative version of this course where the lowest-level math students still did proofs, my curricular materials would start with the triangle congruences and work their way into more interesting proofs from there.

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