Saturday, December 29, 2007

Math 1010

I am scheduled to teach an intermediate algebra course next semester with 200 students enrolled. I am not even going to talk about the fact that I don't think these classes should be taught at the university level. All students should be ready to take college classes when they get to college (yeah, I know). But since we do offer them, I would imagine our goal is that students learn the material so they can take college algebra (no idea where the name came from since that course shouldn't be taught in college either). All that aside, I vehemently oppose large sections of anything really, but especially of low level classes. The students who are in those classes are not there because mathematics comes easily to them. If they can learn it by listening to lectures given by an instructor, they would have already done so. I know why these courses are taught like that: money. And I can't stand that we continue to do it although we know that a failure rate in those classes is much larger than in any other. In fact, some people go as far to claim that the failure rate is large because students do not show up for classes (as if the learning happens by osmosis, so all we have to make sure is that they are there). I actually do think that the students should attend classes, but I don't know how I feel about policing students who should by now have some sense of responsibility for their own actions and choices. Also, one must admit that taking roll in a room with 200 students would not be time efficient. That is, it wouldn't if clickers (also known as audience response system) didn't exist. Each student has their little clicking device that emits signal (when a button on it is pressed) that is received by a little antenna hooked up to a laptop with an appropriate software installed. You can ask a multiple choice, T/F, Y/N questions that are projected on the wall, and I believe actually received on students' pads, they answer it and the program records each answer (each student is identified by their student id #) and can immediately project what answers are given. In any event, taking roll becomes extremely easy, asking questions that can help direct the class are easily implemented and quizzes are quickly graded. Which brought me to my next problem. I never give multiple choice quizzes. I was trying to think of a way to actually look over students work, and I came up with the idea of giving a clicker quizzes, but after each quiz I would list 20 or 30 students (chosen randomly, but so that over the course of the semester I see each student's quiz at least once) whose work I will actually grade. Haven't quite figured out what to do with that grade. Maybe have an extra quiz grade which would really be only 0/1: 0 if the work doesn't correspond to the answers given, and 1 if it does. Anyway, needs more thought. But then I just ran into this multiple choice tests post, and I like the idea. I feel a little better about these quizzes. Anyway, better go work on that syllabus. And if you have great ideas about how to teach 200 students in a chunk of hour and a half, please send them my way.

Never been tagged before...

I was catching up with JD's blog and was very surprised to find my name at the bottom of this post. I was curious if I could even come up with seven things. They might be fairly random. Not too weird, I don't think. Here we go:

1. Quit smoking about three years ago, cold turkey. Speaking of which I believe I only ate turkey once shortly before becoming vegetarian (don't think two were related). Quitting smoking and eating meat are both surprising if you know anything about country I come from: Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still drink coffee, though.

2. I've started many a thing in which I lost interest shortly thereafter. It worries me still. I wonder what I else I will give up.

3. I've twirled my hair since I had it, is what my parents say. It is so me, that I haven't even noticed that my husband, then boyfriend, was doing it as well until our parents cracked up about it. My hair is now less than an inch short which makes twirling really hard. I steal his now and then for twirling purposes.

4. I don't understand people's obsession with procreating.

5. I used to be tolerant of people's religious beliefs. I still think to each their own, but I am not very concerned with not being perceived as offensive. I realize that I do not respect nor tolerate ignorance, nor unfounded statements in any other realm of life, so I don't see why I should when it comes to religion. And I don't mind saying it.

6. I have never been afraid of flying. Well, never until two years ago. Particularly turbulent flight from Zagreb to Sarajevo has made me really nervous about flying. I've been trying to ask as many questions as I can about planes and flying. I am particularly sad that I hadn't been paying attention in my physics classes. I just realized that I forgot to ask if a wing can fall off and what would happen then.

7. I can talk pretty much with anybody about pretty much anything. Except for my dad. He has a particular gift of upsetting me almost as soon as he opens his mouth. All right, a slight exaggeration, but only slight. My sister says that I am much more critical of my parents than of other people. I think I ought to be. They are my parents.

Here are the rules:
- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Tagging 7 other people would be hard. I'm afraid the meme dies here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Safe on internet, at home?

My students are worried that they can't let their students on line. Because it's not safe. I'm currently more worried about being safe in my house. What follows is a text message conversation between me and Mark:

e: Sweetie, I just got a bit worried. I did hand a key to our house to a person we don't know!
m: Don't worry about it. It will be fine. Besides, what are they going to do? Steal all my photo shit in the basement?
e: She told me she used to dog sit for people in park city and how nuts they all are :)
m: Going to bed now. What are you up to?
e: Grading! Is there anything else? You don't think she'll come back and kill me?
m: Sweetie! The homework will get you first!
e: Are you sure? I feel like I may be on fox news tomorrow "a gullible math geek hands the keys of her house to a known criminal. Stay tuned, more after the weather"
m: Sweetie, don't be ridiculous. They always show the weather last :)