Baseball and Not Baseball

What I Learned This Week

How Learning Works Chapter 5: Practice

NOT BASEBALL

Chapter 5 reminds teachers that students need to practice in targeted areas at appropriate challenge levels. Students should receive feedback on how that practice goes. Generally frequent feedback is better. Generally rapid feedback is better (but exceptions are given- for instance if debugging a spreadsheet is a task, correcting errors immediately does not allow students to practice the skill). Students also need sufficient practice. Early practice does not make many gains as students may make many errors. Too much practice on the same skill leads to small progress in the later problems. since students may already have mastery (see S-shaped graph on page 135).

I need to remember to remind students of the goals as they attempt problems. I will also ask students more often to tell how they used my feedback in subsequent work to make sure they are reading, or listening and then applying recommendations.

My list of recommendations to myself is repeated once again with the addition in red.

ONCE A SEMESTER, OR INFREQUENTLY

  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.

DAILY, OR FREQUENTLY

  • Write a concept map of my own thinking to see how an expert organizes the information and select tasks that help convey that organization.
  • Explicitly overview the lesson plan for a section so that students can see how each part fits in
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently
  • Compare problems that on the surface look the same, but that use different mathematical principles

SPECIFIC LESSONS

  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement .

BROADER

  • Ask reflection “What did you learn?” questions on assignments.
  • Ask “How did you use prior feedback?” questions on assignments.

How Learning Works Chapter 4: Mastery

NOT BASEBALL

To achieve mastery students need to acquire skills, practice with those skills and know when to apply them. The students go from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence to unconscious competence. Meaning at first students do not know what they do not know. Eventually they know what they need to do, but have to think about how to do it. Eventually the task becomes automatic.

Some ideas include training in aspects beyond the basic curriculum like how to work in groups and ways to scaffold the work, or isolate certain skills when students are novices.

The chapter also focuses on transfer. One reminder that I will try to implement more often is to make comparisons between problems that show the true underlying principle. For instance two problems in physics may both be about pulleys, but the important principle in one might be gravity while in the other it is friction.

ONCE A SEMESTER, OR INFREQUENTLY

  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.

DAILY, OR FREQUENTLY

  • Write a concept map of my own thinking to see how an expert organizes the information and select tasks that help convey that organization.
  • Explicitly overview the lesson plan for a section so that students can see how each part fits in
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently
  • Compare problems that on the surface look the same, but that use different mathematical principles

SPECIFIC LESSONS

  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement .

BROADER

  • Ask reflection “What did you learn?” questions on assignments.

How Learning Works Chapter 3: Motivation

NOT BASEBALL

Many researchers have found that motivation comes from two sources: Value- how much value a student thinks a course, or particular material has and expectancy- how likely the student thinks it is that he, or she learns. In a supportive classroom students who don’t see value may be evading, just trying to get by. These students need examples of how they might use the content. Students who see value in the material, but lack confidence may seem fragile. They may feign understanding and make excuses to explain poor results. These students need appropriate challenges and early successes.

The authors give a tremendous number of suggestions on how to do this. Many I already do. One easy suggestion that I think I have not done frequently enough is giving students an opportunity to reflect on what they have learned with an explicit question on the assessment. I’ll add that to the goals/strategies list for this winter.

ONCE A SEMESTER, OR INFREQUENTLY

  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.

DAILY, OR FREQUENTLY

  • Write a concept map of my own thinking to see how an expert organizes the information and select tasks that help convey that organization.
  • Explicitly overview the lesson plan for a section so that students can see how each part fits in
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently

SPECIFIC LESSONS

  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement .

BROADER

  • Ask reflection “What did you learn?” questions on assignments.

How Learning Works: Organizing Knowledge

NOT BASEBALL

Experts sometimes organize information differently from novices. Experts also sometimes organize information in multiple ways. An example given and revisited throughout the chapter is an Anatomy and Physiology professor who thinks about systems of the body both in terms of location and function. The professor is frustrated that students seem to only think about the systems in terms of location. The chapter closes with some ideas to help teachers to help students learn to organize information in a field like experts organize the information. As before some tips are probably done by almost all veteran teachers. I noticed a couple things I could do to maybe improve lessons.

This leads me to the following new goals (in green) to add to my list for prepping next semester. I also should organize these into once-a-semester, daily, and for-specific-topics sections for use next semester.

  • Write a concept map of my own thinking to see how an expert organizes the information and select tasks that help convey that organization.
  • Explicitly overview the lesson plan for a section so that students can see how each part fits in
  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently
  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement . . .

Oatsmobile Ale

NOT BASEBALL

I had this beer after the Labor Day march at American Coney Island. It was pleasant enough, but given the name I could not help compare it to oatmeal stouts. And given the pedigree I could not help, but compare it to Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. I probably would not order it again elsewhere, but I think folks who prefer less hop-forward beers than me might enjoy it.

How Learning Works: 7 Researched Based Principles for Smart Teaching

NOT BASEBALL

How Learning Works by Susan Ambrose and others promises to balance reporting research about learning with practical classroom advice. I read through their first principle last night. The principle is about how prior learning affects students’ new learning.

Many of the research results were ones I had read about previously. For instance one from How the Brain Works tells about how students did not apply transfer unless they were told to transfer. Keeping to their word they only briefly summarized this- to the point of not actually mentioning the contexts of military conquest using multiple roads and tumor treatment.

Many of the suggestions will not surprise a veteran teacher. For veteran teachers it appears this book may be like many conference sessions – 80% “Yeah, of course” and 20% “Hmm, I should have thought of that.”

Nonetheless I have a few goals for the winter semester based on the first chapter.

  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently
  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement . . .

When I finish the book I’ll probably make a document to review for preparing each day to make sure I do as many of the suggestions as possible.

Still More Geogebra

NOT BASEBALL

Geogebra has also added easy to use statistics demonstration software. It does far more than I need it to do in Math 131, Math for the Modern World, but it is better than the current demonstration applets I use in class when discussing the Normal Distribution.

From the picture you can probably get the idea of how it works. It is very intuitive.

Geogebra Probability and Statistics

Geogebra Probability and Statistics

Geogebra Revisited

NOT BASEBALL

The Geogebra website has added some nice features since the last time I used it. It is easy to make models of 3-dimensional shapes. The video below shows the steps I followed to make a cone and shade the base and lateral area with different colors.

There are lots of false starts (losing the axis and not being able to stop the spinning was not clever) as I do this, but within about 4 minutes I had a shape ready to be screen captured. Here are some other images I made earlier today.

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Post for Math 080 Chat on December 2

NOT BASEBALL

The computer in G207 does not have Jing installed. My laptop has HDMI out and the tech set up in G207 does not have HDMI in. My lap top does not have a VGA out. So we have to fake it. If the group is small enough we can do a live Jing on my laptop.

To use Jing:

  1. Download Jing
  2. Launch Jing (It will probably set it up to launch on start up)
  3. Click on the yellow sun.

    Capture on the Jing Sun

    Capture on the Jing Sun

  4. Select the window you want to use and resize the window.
  5. Select video (you can also use it for screen captures).
  6. Start your video. When you press stop it goes to a screen where you can save it. Press pause instead to temporarily halt the recording. Here is Jing’s demonstration. And here is their entire list of help videos.
  7. You can either save the video or upload it to Screencast.com (You create a Screencast account when you set up Jing.) Here is the video I made and uploaded. You save in .swf format and not in MP4 so it takes some work to move the file to other sites (a whole ‘nother session). You can also buy Camtasia which includes other file formats and longer video times.

Another Placement Session

NOT BASEBALL

Highland College shared their literature review and initial changes to placement.

  • “Placement should be educative (sic?) and participatory” (kind of mocked the 7 Steps) – There students meet with advisors first and pick classes based on career goals
  • They have brush up workshops with a faculty member from math available. 
  • They also ask affective and result questions about prior courses. They have sample review problems so students can see whether they should review before the test. 
  • Measures: table based on info about background tells which of multiple measures to use. Testing is a last resort. Their table was not part of the handout so hopefully the Power Point is online. 
  • Brush up is a MOOC. This and the embedded faculty member are grant funded and on quarters. Their college funded it one year before they got the grant. 

Their hand out will be available on the proceedings. I have a poorly scanned copy now. I will try to remember to link it later. 

I left early since I had the idea. I caught the last few minutes of a dyscalculia session.