Monday, November 17, 2014

I actually get this!

Four little words that bring such music to my ears!  "I actually get this!" I heard a lot of that or "oooooh" today in both classes.  It was most fun because several times the students didn't know I heard them say it to their teammates.  Calculus has been working on differentials, propagated error, relative error and maximum error for the past 3 days, and they still cause a lot of confusion when an application problem rolls into the picture.  I have drawn a diagram of what we are finding over and over and over so they can see it.  And finally it started to click today (yay! lightbulbs are coming on!)  While I know there are still some questions (hopefully we can finalize answers to them tomorrow), I KNOW that I did a MUCH BETTER job at explaining them this year.  Sometimes, it really helps to let students work (after you have given them some direction) and see where the problems tend to be.  Otherwise you are trying to troubleshoot where there may not be trouble and at the same time missing where there is plenty.  That happened both Friday and today.  I needed to see their collective work to know what the problems were.  Having whiteboards 270 degrees around helps me see them quickly.  Then I know how to fix the problems.

Stats students are trying to make proper Venn diagrams and tree diagrams and see the connections between them for probability.  So many had not seen their connection until today, when I got the "oooooh".  There were many "aha" moments.  It feels so good when that happens.  And it's fun because the students then see how "the magic" works, even they said "it's magical" and I feel like they really did see a magic trick which will now stay with them because they witnessed it unfolding right before their eyes.

Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing as a math teacher?!!  Showing students "the magic" behind the trick.  So many try to just teach them the trick, but the students can't reproduce the trick because they don't really know "the magic" behind it.  It's like trying to perform a card trick where you haven't figured out HOW it works, and you keep getting it wrong because of that.  I feel like so many students get turned off to math because they view it as a bunch of secrets and magic that they don't have the keys to.  I hope that is not the case in my class.  I love showing them the secrets...and the more drama you can add to it: "hey guys, this is a secret, don't tell anyone I told you but...." really gets them interested.

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