Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tales from Calculus Circus

We are now up to 88 emails since the beginning of the semester from the students in Calculus Circus.

Today one of the questions I asked in class was about the slope of a line. There was a picture of a parabola on the slide with a tangent line drawn in. The tangent line sloped down as you moved to the right. The tangent line was labeled y = -2x. The question was a multiple choice question about the slope of the line: was its slope positive, negative, zero, or none of the above. After class a student came up and asked me how we knew that the slope was negative. Fortunately, his non-understanding of slope put him in a tiny minority; according to the report from the clicker software, the overwhelming majority of respondents answered that question correctly. I told him that he should consider taking College Algebra. He said that he'd already done that and since he passed it, he couldn't take it again. Aren't you glad that his College Algebra teacher didn't want to hurt his feelings by failing him?

With the exception of the needy students' incessant emails, I'm liking teaching the large-lecture class. I like the clickers. I like using powerpoint slides that I write on at the Sympodium. (They print out the sildes ahead of time and bring them to class to fill in! I print the slides four to a page, and you can hear it when everyone turns the page!) My students seem to like me. The ones who aren't paying attention seem not to be too disruptive.

We'll see how things turn out in a few weeks.