Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A New Semester Begins

I've got seven sections this semester. Four of those classes are combined sections of MAT 55/MAT 65, so it's really five sections. In addition, I have one section each of Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, and Calculus II.

For the fourth year in a row, I have a College Algebra section full of high school students. The hard part is keeping them motivated because they have had Precalculus at the high school. Since our College Algebra is modeling based, I can keep them busy with projects.

For the second year in a row, I have a high school student in Calculus II. The parents of this student asked me about enrolling her in Calculus I two summers ago. She got a 31 ACT in math as an eighth-grader. If you are feeling dumb right now, don't worry. I got over the feeling in a couple of months.

And yes, I did say "her". I suspect she'll be getting pressure to go into medicine, her father's a cardiologist, but I'll try to steer her to the "noble profession" of mathematics. While speaking of women in mathematics, one of my high school College Algebra students is in Maysville for her first semester. Her plan is to get a Ph. D. in mathematics.

The Summer in Review

I only taught Differential Equations this summer. The students managed to solve a differential equation with GNU Octave. That's an improvement over the last summer. I've been teaching Intermediate Algebra in the summers as well, but this summer it didn't make. It was hard to stay home for just one class, as we like to take the family on road trips during the summer.

In addition to teaching, the other math faculty (four of them) and I worked on our redesign of the developmental algebra sequence. We planned all of Prealgebra (MAT 55) and Basic Algebra (MAT 65). We worked out most of Intermediate Algebra (MAT 120). Intermediate Algebra is not considered developmental at KCTCS, but it is treated as a developmental course at Maysville. We wrote MyMathLab test, homework, and quizzes for each class. In addition, we wrote pencil and paper test, homework, and quizzes for each class.

Mike Pemberton and Paulette Sauer piloted the computer assisted sections of MAT 55 and MAT 65 this summer during an eight week session. We actually had a few students finish the courses. The courses are "minimally paced", which means the students work at their own pace. By dividing the courses into five units each, and tracking students' progress through a database, the students who did not pass this summer are not starting from scratch. The unit grades will carry over to the fall.

At the end of the summer, the college lost one adjunct faculty member and the physics faculty member, who also taught math. That left five math sections uncovered. I was able to pick up two sections, but I lost my Math for Elementary Teachers course that I was looking forward to.

At the end of July, we drove across county to Denver for a family reunion. We managed to have fun even though there were four of us in a Chevy Cobalt for two weeks. We managed to visit seven National Park Units on the trip. We were rushing because the budget negotiations were in progress, and we weren't sure if there if there would be National Parks in August.

Back to the Blog

I've been away from the blog for a while. At the end of the spring, I realized that the blog was focused more on other people's teaching, and not my own. don't want to be a blowhard, so I gave the blogging a break. I was going to shutdown the blog, but then I realized that I could still share about my teaching without trying to reshape American Education. So, with that out of the way, I'll get back to it.