Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #2: Football (yes) and some musings about teaching

So yesterday, in spite of my good intentions, I ended up watching several football games. Our (which we won, finally!), our rivals (which they lost, yeah!), and my home doc university's (which we lost, boo). Two happies and one sad. I also did lots of grading, but not enough.

This morning, Slogger and I walked slowly downtown for our weekly ritual of coffee and bagels. Slowly, I say, because his ankle is still sore from falling off a bike a couple of weeks ago (and subsequent coumadin-inspired bleeding/bruising) and because I have little energy as a result of some chest congestion. (Though I should add that the chest congestion is responding well to the Mucinex my doctor suggested. Maybe that is also making me sleepy? Not sure. Anyhoo....)

As we were slowly walking I was thinking about this semester's classes, and the algebra class I am currently taking. I was wishing with part of my self that my courses could be more concrete than they are, that I could just give tests and feel certain that my students are getting everything I want them to get (before they go out and foist their lack of knowledge on the unsuspecting students in high school around the state!).

Well, the truth is, I could give tests. And perhaps I will. I used to give a take-home midterm examination, and I liked the way it helped students to study enough to make the information I gave them concrete, in a much more solid way than asking them to apply the information to a huge project, as I also do every semester. Or perhaps what I mean is that I have more certainty, from looking at the test results, that my students are thinking about the concepts I want them to think about outside of class.

That's probably the bottom line for me -- I want them to engage: in class, out of class, after they graduate.

So, next fall, I might give a mid-term and final. How will that change what I'm asking for in class? We'll see.

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