Yesterday, I was backing up my teaching files to a flash drive so I can copy them to the new laptop that I am supposed to get soon. For some reason, which escapes me at the moment, I did a "cut and paste" instead of a "copy and paste". Not all of the files copied onto the flash drive and I don't have a backup on my laptop. I managed to lose a large chunk of data.
The sorest part of all of this is that the PowerPoint, LaTeX, and SMART Notebook documents that I use in class are gone. All of them! I don't have a single worksheet or lecture that I've produced in the last three years. This is going to be a real problem on Monday. (To add insult to injury, I do have all of the slides I produced for teaching at UW-Milwaukee. Those slides are for overhead projectors.)
Now that the lectures are gone, I can take this opportunity to get them right. The structure of most of my classes was to summarize the section of the text in a PowerPoint, read the PowerPoint to the students while they copied it into their notebooks, and work a couple of examples. As you would expect, this turned into a race for the students to copy the notes before I grew bored of watching them write. Even my assurances that they could get the notes on-line didn't keep them from writing every word. I did have some activities that broke this mold, but it was hard to produce enough of them to replace every traditional lecture.
I've known for a while that class time lacked interaction with the students. I would only get students engaged in small ways. I realize now that I am going to have to replace "The definition of a linear function is..." with "Read the definition of a linear function on page 143 of your text. Write an example of a function that is not linear and convince your neighbor that it is linear." I am also planning on writing worksheets to go with each lecture. I have used worksheets in the past to lead students, in small groups, step-by-step through some topics. The students prefer the worksheets over lectures.
With due respect to Edward Van Halen, I've fallen down the stairs and I might have landed on my feet.