Saturday, 18 February 2017

Here Goes!

As I wrote in my last post, I am jumping into the full VNPS-VRG-thinking-classroom in my calculus classes. I have two classes - one in the morning, the other in the afternoon - so I will be able to tweak my plan in between and hopefully really make progress with both my planning and implementation. We have finished our first unit on limits and introducing the derivative function. On Wednesday we will start with the derivative rules (power, product, quotient, chain) so that's what I'm trying to plan out. Sheri Walker and I thought through this progression together yesterday so I've tried to tie things together and include some of what I expect to see. The intro will be to the entire class, the sequence are the questions I will give each group of 3 at their whiteboards/blackboard. Groups should progress at different rates so my job is to circulate, observe and help keep them in flow. The last question (part i) may be for the speed demons or for everyone - we shall see! I am also trying to keep in mind what comes next.

You may notice that I have a number of unanswered questions. If you can help me think through those, I would be most appreciative.

My plan is to edit my document after I have done both classes and then post the new file in case it might be useful to others.

1. I think I like the scaffolding. It begins as a "review" then builds into the newer investigation. I also like the idea of connecting it to the transformations of the graph.

For power rule I like to give different groups different functions. The students who find the class more challenging get the x and x^2. The more advanced students can have the x^3 and x^4. Then we do a "gallery walk" to try to see the connections.

The proof of power rule is something I always do (otherwise it seems too magical), but for the a^n - b^n = (a-b)(a^n-1 + .... + b^n-1) part I just provide that line and do a quick inspection to see why it would be true.

For homework I usually have them come up with 3 or 4 questions on their own and ask for their favorites the next day to begin class. Sometimes I make it a challenge (stump the teacher style) or sometimes trade questions with another group.

1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, David. With so much swirling around I am glad to hear that my initial plan seems sound. Time to clean up the details and try it out!

2. Hi Mary, I am a colleague of Tricia Poulin. You come highly recommended. Just read your intro above, about 2 groups of Calculus. A little precaution. Back in 2004 I had the opportunity, through Visiting International Faculty, to teach in Duluth Georgia, at Northview SS. At the time, I had 3 Calculus groups .. I once made the comment that by the 3rd class, the lesson was perfect or something to that effect. Well a group of students from Period 1 class used that as a complaint against me! So .. be careful what you say, & how, should you mention it in one of your classes!

1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Bernadette. My two groups have very different dynamics so I think the experience will differ accordingly. However, if something really bombs in my morning class I'm glad I will get the chance to try again before next year!