Category Archives: Teaching Philosophy

Midterm “Exam” Suggestions from Students

Hope you all are well.  This week was back to school for my college students.   The form below is from the end of class Monday (our very first virtual class!)

Our college, The College of Mount Saint Vincent, has professors post midterm grades.  These grades do not go on transcripts but allow for transparency between teachers and students.  I spent much of the planning time for Monday’s lesson and Wednesday’s exam focused on the student experience and creating modules within the 85 minutes.

On Wednesday the midterm for my College Algebra students was a blend of Delta Math and a Google Form.  I chatted with students in real time and held virtual office hours.

I extended the Delta Math due date til Friday morning and also created a non Delta Math assignment on a Word document to provide students with a choice.   At this point in time, helping students complete assignments is not as important as building community and agency for our students.

Midterm Sugeestions

Math Creates Flow!

Of the many ways to measure a Math lesson,  one is flow.  The 75 minute blocks at my college can feel like a long time to be doing Math.    Therefore, I try to have a variety of modalities within a lesson to capture students’ attention and to provide opportunities to learn and do Math.

The best flow experience I witnessed in my classroom was an activity (on Graphing Functions) starting at 1:58 which was 17 minutes before class ended.  I had thought they would first work independently and then work in pairs.

1:58 handout given students have alone time to think and work while I visit deskside
2:05 students are working independently while I circulate around
2:10 students are still actively learning solo
2:15 class has officially ended — do I tell them?
2:20 they are STILL working — so engrossed
These students may have another class at 2:30 — our room is about to be taken over by the teacher and students waiting patiently outside the door.
2:23 Drat! I have to break the magic and tell them that class is over

At the end, I was delighted that students were totally in a flow state.  They lost all sense of time while they were learning and doing Math.  My only regret?

Why Learn to do Math by Hand?

            Division Jluy 2019       There’s a connection between pencil, paper and brain.

My chairman who is 20 years my junior has lit upon an old idea: help students understand Math without the crutch of a calculator.  This summer, I will teach arithmetic along with algebraic and geometric skills to rising college freshmen to boost their analytical skills, critical thinking and mathematical breadth.  One of the goals is to help students see how much understanding the times tables contributes to the knowledge and skills for high school and college Math.

After teaching Math for Elementary Educators for over 10 years, I can appreciate how the classroom can differ without the use of technology.    This is like going back home as I am from the last millenium aka BC Before Calculators.

Some of the topics we will cover include multiplication and division in various formats, adding and multiplying fractions, finding equivalent fractions for repeating decimals as well as using the “educated guess and check” method for computing square roots.  I may also dust off my knowledge of square roots by hand and share this division-related topic.

So how would you do 1472 divided by 5?  If you answered “With a calculator.”, you may find that most efficient but doing it by hand can help build estimation and computational skills while promoting Math facts and self-reliance.  In a tech-filled world, it can be wonderful to think independently without a calculator or Siri or Alexa or Google Assistant etc.

So sharpen your pencils and try my 3 favorite division problems on paper — yes please write these down and then close your laptop and/or power down your phone til it’s just you and the Math:

70 divided by 5
365 divided by 7
1000 divided by 8.


Easy Medium Hard Regents Questions

From the Jan 2016 Common Core Algebra I Regents:

The level of challenge on the Regents like any exam varies quite a bit.
After posting about #1-19 of the Jan 2016 Common Core Algebra I Regents, challenge level is being added to each problem.
Please comment if you feel a problem is misclassified as I am only right about 80% of the time.  Most importantly, students need to know what they find easy medium hard (often abbreviated as EMH)

that was easyc

click on the word easy for blog posts for Jan 2016 1 3 4 5 8 9 12 15 16
click on the word medium for blog posts for Jan 2016 2 7 13 14 17 18 19
click on the word hard for blog posts for Jan 2016 6 10 11 20