Monday, April 10, 2006

The Student Who Needs to Focus

My student won't stay on task. During in-class groupwork, questions will veer away from math to movies and pop culture. When I hadn't seen the commercial he was referencing, he suggested that I needed to watch more TV; I countered that maybe he should watch less TV. He said that he has the TV on 24/7. Even his math-related questions are off-topic: How would we calculate the surface area of a gummy bear as it was being eaten if it was bitten in half at each step? If we had a cube that we kept cutting in half, would the surface area increase without bound? (We were studying max/min, concavity, the shape of curves.) He won't shut up. In my office he'll ask about the manipulatives for the class I supervise; he'll ask what I'm teaching in my other class; he'll talk about what he knows about those topics. His disorganized work is sparse and has a stereotyped format: the right answer (with no supporting calculations), a mysterious graph or diagram, a few infathomable expressions.