Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Pieces Are Falling Into Place

At the end of last week, I was falling behind. I like to start on xeroxing the exam for the big calculus class about a week in advance (to not hog the copier, to plan time for the machine to be broken, etc.), and that didn't happen this time. I've finally taught my way through all of the Keynote/PowerPoint slides that I made back in May.

This might sound like it's problematic and not the way that I'd want the semester to be going. And locally, sure, it's an issue.

However, globally, everything is working out.

Calculus is easy to deal with. Planning for calculus is not hard. Planning the calculus lecture relies on little more than well-chosen screenshots from the e-book pasted onto slides and typing a few representative homework problems in LaTeXiT and dragging them over, too. Exams and review sheets can be created by taking homework problems and changing the numbers. So little effort pays off by positively influencing so many students. And since I'm teaching this again next semester, the effort counts double. And since it is no secret what is on the calculus exam (calculus problems that are just like the homework problems), next semester I can give out "practice tests" which will be the actual tests from this semester. You don't need to be in a Greek-letter organization to have the old exams from my class! I put the exams on the internet!

With the honors seminar, the one that meets once a week, we've finished reading the book, and the modern stuff is way more interesting than the older stuff. When we meet on Thursday, they will have plenty to say. They will have opinions about how the university keeps track of their MAC addresses and can turn them in to the RIAA. And after that we're having presentations of research-in-progress (so that they can get feedback on their work before writing their papers). After that it's Thanksgiving, and then one day to sum things up. I'm working on writing the take-home exam, and I'll hand that out on Thursday. At that point everything should be under control with that class.

My other class is shaping up nicely, too. Made the review sheet for the third exam (the last exam before the final). It will be easy to write an exam that's based on the review sheet. Other than that I have to write two more homework assignments (not hard) and a take-home final (also not hard) and show up three days a week to talk about whatever catches my fancy.

Looks like this semester will shape up OK.