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Monday - September 29, 1997

Algebra II went by fairly well. I quickly summarized the previous section (Solving inequalities) by saying "Solving inequalities is exactly the same as solving equations with one exception: when multiplying or dividing by zero, you need to flip the inequality sign." Apparently just saying that, I answered a few questions. I'm not surprised. My lecture on Friday was a bit on the disjointed side. I think I lost sight of the forest while i was concentrating on the trees. When I presented the forest to the students today, most of their hands shot down. That was good.
    I had them write out their answers on the board, then. With the exception of a few careless mistakes, they did all the procedures correctly. So maybe my lecture wasn't that bad after all...
    In any event, I started lecturing on solving combined inequalities (like 2    I still can't shake the feeling that my lectures are boring, though. I saw Mike put his head down on his desk midway through my talk. I didn't have heart to say anything, though, because I couldn't blame him. If I were a student, I would be put to sleep too! But what to do? I have absolutely no clue how to make this material interesting. Oh sure, I could incorporate some of the ideas from a few books I've read... but let's face it: those changes would require radical restructuring of the class. Let me rephrase that. Those changes would require radical restructuring of Maureen's class. What happens when I'm gone in a few weeks? I'm not sure that the class could easily switch back to a different style. So I'm stuck. Ah well...
    Algebra I, 4th hour, also went fairly well. When I did the section on generalized problems (x^n instead of x^6), they seemed to grasp it much faster then did 5th hour on Friday. All in all, I was satisfied that they understood what was going on. We shall see tomorrow when I quiz them, though. I lectured on multiplying and simplifying fractions. Much of it (the non-variable part) was review for them. They caught on fast to the variable fractions, too. The book has this section and the next one screwed up order-wise. They should have had Sec 2-11 first, since you need the info from it to simplify the fractions in 2-10. Since 4th hour is a fairly good class, I covered the material from 2-11 very quickly and assigned a few problems from 2-11. This should catch 4th hour up to 5th hour.
    Speaking of 5th hour... well, let's say that there are quite a few slower students in that class then there are in 4th hour. I was helping quite a few of them out on the assigned homework and was shocked at how little they were thinking through the problems. What is x times y? I heard an answer of "1" more than once. These students just aren't synthesizing previous knowledge with the current material.
    Tomorrow, I start teaching both Algebra I sections. It should be interesting.

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