11 January 2006

First week back

Well, I rather like my incredibly bizarre schedule this term. Why? Because it's Wednesday and I have only one lecture left to give this week. When the math center opens, I'll be spending two hours there tomorrow as well, but I don't really count time spent there as "work." I've decided that I much, MUCH prefer having MW or TTh classes. Yes, techincally I spend the same amount of time lecturing if it's a MWF class, but it feels like more work. Right now, I give 8 lectures per week. If all the classes were MWF, I'd be giving 12 lectures per week. Shorter lectures, but it still feels like more work.

Of the 39 people registered for my 025 class, 9 have now found their way to the mathXL web-site to register and do homework. Since they've only had two days to work on it, this is a pretty good result. I had one guy who had registered to the site but somehow not selected my class section, and said he couldn't find any assigned homework. After class, we figured out that was the problem and got him in. I need to spend some time looking over the HW. I copied Cathi Kunicki's class (she writes the finals, so that seemed reasonable), but I might want to add in a few problems here and there.

Math 015... well, it's interesting. We went through addition today. No real problems there. Got to subtraction. No problems if both numbers were positive. I was surprised to realize that many of them did not know that "minus a minus makes plus." They were very confused about that subtraction rule. For anyone else teaching, I found a good way to show them why it works that way. I started with a thermometer diagram, but anything with a number line would work. If we look at the picture, at say 20 degrees Fahrenheit and -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and count the number of units between, we get 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and subtraction finds the "difference between" the two numbers. So 20-(-10) must be 30. I figured out that diagram scheme late in the 9:30 class, after they raised many many questions. I used it early on in the 11:00 class, and had many fewer questions. It's possible that the 11:00 class is just less talkative, but I was still encouraged.

Math 123...Math in Modern Society...may actually be a lot of fun to teach. The topics are nearly random and vary widely, and the group of students seems to be quite enthusiastic. Of course, partly they were laughing at me and the mistakes on my syllabus (to be fixed tomorrow and they'll get NEW syllabi), but there was a feel of positive energy and I LIKE that in a class. I've taught some classes where I felt like I was fighting them every step of the way, and that's not much fun. Anyway, that's the one lecture I have left for this week. We're looking at schemes for counting votes at the moment.

And I'm not sure if it's the commute to IF or what, but both Monday and this afternoon I was very tired. Monday I just drank some tea and moved on. Today I decided to take a nap. It was 14:30. I didn't need to be anywhere until 17:45, so I didn't bother to set an alarm and expected to sleep for maybe an hour. I woke up at 17:00, and barely had time to heat up some food before leaving. So in future I will set some sort of alarm...

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