10.03.2009

Becoming more Human

Wednesday I gave a test in Calculus. It was covering limits at a point, at infinity, one-sided limits, continuity, etc., even some free fall questions leading into our next unit on differentiation. The day before the test, I was nervous that the test was not going to go well. Review, things that should have been easy, was like pulling teeth. I was starting to doubt myself and my teaching.

During the test, I was looking through some stuff in my classroom and I happened upon my limits test from when I was in high school. I got a B+, and there was a calculator and no-calculator portion. I instantly thought, "Arg! I should've made a no-calculator portion!" Instead of dwelling on that, though, I just looked it over and found my mistakes...very interesting ones. Since the class finished the test with time to spare, I decided to show my test, and look at my mistakes. Looking at the problems I answered incorrectly, I asked the student to decide where I went wrong and what the answer should be.  We went through the whole test like this, and even on some of the questions I answered correctly, I asked why that is the right answer.

This little exercise was a time-filler, yes. I think it made my student view me as a co-learner and as someone who has gone through what he is going through. I'm not just a teacher, I'm a student and learner too. I make mistakes in the classroom all the time, so it's not that my students view me as perfect and error free, but I think showing my old test and what was expected made a stronger bond between us. While I don't have all of my tests from calc, so I won't be able to do this frequently, I do plan to share from my experiences in calc during high school, and I hope to bring in some of the activities that we used (and some others!)

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