Week 1 in Review

Year two is off to a great start. So far I feel I’ve done a pretty good job of meeting my goals of being prepared and being present. I have actually felt like I’m in the moment in all of my classes. Looking back, I was spending quite of bit of energy last year worrying about how things were going. Now I’m in the flow.

I’m teaching two sections of IMP1 again and teaching a class for the second time is… I actually don’t know how to describe it… a joy?  It is so much less stressful.  I’m trying to not to assume that this year’s students will be exactly like last year’s, but it is nice to know where the potential road bumps are in the curriculum. I also feel more comfortable in making pacing adjustments. Now I actually have time to polish opening PowerPoints – I know the questions I want to ask, this year’s task is to refine the wording1.

I have three sections of IMP4. This is a new prep for me (and for our school). So far I LOVE IT. Honestly, I was a bit worried about how my students would do with attempting to solve this problem:

High Dive Teachers Guide, Key Curriculum Press

Image source: High Dive Teacher's Guide, Key Curriculum Press

The unit problem is to determine when to release the person from the platform so (s)he lands in the water. So far my classes have managed to extend the sine function beyond the first quadrant, determine an equation that models the height of the platform as a function of time, and accurately predict what this graph would look like. I’m not sure if I was more impressed with their development of reference triangles or of the periodic nature of the sine function.

Besides being impressed by their willingness ability to develop and share these mathematical ideas, I am completely blown away by the way they are working in class.  Sharing their thinking, proposing alternate methods, trying things and not getting stuck when they don’t work, helping each other in an appropriate manner, saying “slow down, I don’t understand”, having discussions, … my seniors rock!2

Next week things get a bit more complicated, but I am not nearly as anxious about their ability to handle it. I also need to do a bit more checking to make sure that everyone has fully grasped these concepts.

Also coming up next week is preparation for homecoming activities (I’m the sophomore class sponsor and we’re in charge of planning the PowderPuff game – we’ve also got the usual decorating that goes along with that) and the first practice for math team3. Grad school starts the week after that. I’m hoping to get the rest of my grading and planning done tonight so I can spend the rest of the weekend relaxing.

1I’m also working on the design, but I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with that.

2 I have actually heard things like, “Well, I’m not going to tell you the answer. Explain what you understand about the problem and what you’ve tried”.

3 Hey, does anyone have any really good competition problems on the geometry of right triangles including trig?

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5 Responses to Week 1 in Review

  1. Heather says:

    It sounds like you are having a great start to the school year. Congratulations! The 2nd year of teaching is infinitely better, in all ways, than the 1st year. And, it only gets better. I love the problem you have your students working on. But, I may be a bit biased coming from a physics background. 🙂 Sometimes I wish math and physics were team taught at all times. Good luck with week #2!!

  2. Mindelei says:

    It sounds like your year is beginning superbly! You have so many wonderful things going on in math – I would have loved to work on those type of problems when I was in HS. That’s awesome that you’re feeling more confident and are finding yourself really living in the moment! Congratulations! It sounds like you and your students will be really busy, but will also be having a lot of fun. 🙂

  3. Jackie, I am glad you reflected on student responses. This will something they can look back on also. I just love this problem. You have done a great job!

  4. Jake says:

    I love that problem. I *want* to solve it.

  5. Richard says:

    I’m sure you’re going to have a strong career in education if you keep learning and are willing to change once in a while. I think last year was my best yet and it was my 9th year. This year will be better, though….

    I’m thinking of getting IMP3 training this coming summer. So far I’ve only taught levels 1 and 2, although I have personally worked through all the units in level 3 and some in 4.

    Keep up the good work!

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