Yesterday was the first day of the spring semester. (At this point of the year, it feels awkward to call it the spring semester.) I had a wonderful week at the Joint Mathematics Meetings last week. I got home on Saturday pretty late and very tired. Sunday, I lounged. Seriously. I didn’t do any work at all. I slept in a little. Then I took a nap with my preschooler cause she needed a cuddle. Before I knew it, it was 3pm. So, it was a good thing that I had taught each of my courses before and had spent serious time getting mentally ready for them over the break. I didn’t have every piece of paper in place by Monday morning (I still don’t), but it was not a disaster. So, how did it go?
Regular readers (hi, mom!) know that I have been thinking a lot about this, and that I have an unconventional plan. I have decided to refer to this structure as “unteaching” a course. I explained the basic idea and the reason for it, and described the first assignment. Not ten minutes had passed. Then things got a little awkward. I think the students were just so surprised that I didn’t have a whole fifty minutes worth of activity planned for them, that they didn’t know what to do. Most set themselves the task of starting to look through the books I brought with me. I still think this will work out, but I wonder what is going to happen tomorrow.
I followed my “usual plan” for the first day, and things went well. (I am on iteration nine of this particular course, so I have some things figured out.) This is a Moore Method course, so we practiced the structure of presenting and critiquing. This went well. We got a theorem. I explained all of the basic structure and rules (and a little of why I chose them) and then sent them off to do some mathematics. I am a little concerned that there are so many students–25 is a lot for a Moore Method structure. Not too many, just a lot.
Math in Decision Making
This is a IBL course, done as a “group work modified Moore method.” I only have 25 or so students and it is a relief. Apparently the last minute check on placement test scores forced six students out of the course. This is inconvenient for those students, but convenient for the rest of us. I seem to have a good group. They dealt well with being asked to participate, and we had a good, light-hearted conversation about the mathematics. It will take time to set out the right classroom culture, but yesterday was a good first step. I have decided to have semi-regular homework so I can give them feedback on their writing and they can practice on some of the more important ideas outside of class. I think I will do homework about once a week, and it will be short and focused.
All in all, a good first day. Now I have to go finish polishing things for day two.