And how did I spend Leap Day? A little bit of professional development
and a little bit of oil change, not necessarily in that order. In
fact, I am currently at the dealership waiting for the conclusion of
The part of this I find interesting is that my age of approximately
14,600 days is almost 10,000 days below the average of the rest of the
folks here in the waiting room. Is there a correlation between
February 29 and senior citizen car maintenance? How about between
Friday and this demographic? My curiousity is piqued.
Anyway, I have spent some of this time grading calculus assignments. I
asked this rambunctious, mostly engaged, motivated gang of budding
mathematicians to graph the normal curve. You may know this curve by
its street name of the bell curve which has been credited or blamed
for almost every blanket statement ever uttered about any group of
people. This is also the villain behind the inevitable question: are
you going to curve these grades?
So I asked the students to apply the ideas of differentiation we have been
studying for lo these many weeks to closely analyze the curve. Where
does the maximum value occur and what is it? Where does the curve
change its concavity? etc. Overall, with respect to the calculus
ideas, they gave it the old college try, as I hoped they would. The
part that is currently baffling me is their inability to follow
directions. I am not a heartless individual and I told them to "let a
= 1" before attempting to find the derivative. Half of the students
ignored this or didn't see it or didn't know what it meant and
proceeded to calculate the derivative with this constant of 'a'
mucking up the works. Oh, good for them for attempting this but their
lives would have been so much easier if they put a 1 in instead.
Oh, the car is done. I'll pick up on this later.....
Sent from my iPhone
3/1/08 - completed from home
My concerns for the calculus students lie mainly within the realm of what if they didn't understand what the direction to 'let a = 1' meant? This is a basic tenet of mathematics: know thy definitions. This comes right after read the directions but is even more important in some cases. Oy, if this is where their confusion lies then I will have a few days of doubting my skills as a teacher. On the other side of that, I'll be feeling all good again but I am baffled about what is on the list of things I have to worry about as a teacher and what I need to just let go and let the students learn on their own or realize they should know already. This is a fuzzy zone for me and is the source of most of my professional angst.