At the end of last year I posted a handful of goals I had for improvement. Here is this year’s version.
- Create clearer expectations for the logarithms unit — or at least make sure the unclarity is purposeful.
- Improve scientific notation materials.
- Revise the vocab lists for my word wall.
- Be careful about continuing instruction while students are still taking notes on prior info.
- Plan for more “discuss/work with a partner.”
- Provide examples of written work by previous students — practice critiquing them as class starter activities or as a way to get the writing juices flowing before a journal assignment.
I organized this year’s trigonometry final according to theme. The sections of the final were:
- Vocabulary [synonyms, examples, descriptions, comparisons]
- Equivalence [simplifying expressions, factoring expressions]
- Functions [linear, quadratic, exponential, trigonometric] and Graphing [linear, quadratic, sinusoidal; domain and range]
- Interpreting Graphs [distance vs. time]
- Solving Quadratic Equations
- Exponents and Logarithms
- Angles and Trigonometric Values [sine and cosine; deriving the values for angles in quadrant one, providing the values for other standard angles]
I find I’m a big supporter of the cumulative final, even and especially for students who struggle with long-term retention. How else will they train their minds to hold on to things? I’m an equal proponent of intelligently designed cumulative finals. My final this year was not a test designed to congratulate those with natural retention and punish those without it. We spent time throughout the year, plus a good chunk there at the end, building student retention of important skills and information, making my final an opportunity for students to take pride in having actually learned things.
Not that my final was a cake walk. The expectations in the test were high to match the value I intended it to have.
I remember drafting this post in May, but I guess it never made it out of my drafts folder. Until now, that is!
05/23/13 Here are some goals I jotted down for improving Trigonometry next year.
- Set better sections for student notebooks. The notebook sections I required this year were basically useless. Here’s what they should be:
- Notes and Classwork
- Quizzes and Tests
- Journals and Projects
- Trigonometry is not bathroom and drinking fountain time (yeah, it was a problem this year)
- Support the “function box” concept better*
- Make better intro learning activity for quadratic functions**
- Emphasize slope as a rate of change
- Contrast rate of change vs. accumulation
- More “discuss/work with a partner”
- Follow through on promise of notebook checks
7/10/13 Of course there are others, it seems hundreds more. Tweak that activity. Improve those notes. Allow them to critique their own presentations. Make sure homework assignments are worthwhile. But at the end of the school year, the bulleted eight were the goals that seemed big, essential.
*7/10/13 After coming across the illustration of inverse functions that I featured here, I’m not sure if I’ll continue to use the function box. I might.
**Number 4 is my primary curricular goal. At the end of last year I set a primary goal to improve the way I taught logarithms, with the result that this year the logarithm unit was one of the best of the whole year. Quadratics are the first non-linear functions my students study so their introduction deserves to be genuinely meaningful. Thus, it receives “primary goal” status.