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Topic: How I use journals.
Replies: 1   Last Post: May 21, 1996 12:09 PM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 Al Coons Posts: 898 Registered: 12/4/04
How I use journals.
Posted: May 20, 1996 10:41 PM

Tim Brown wrote:

>Could you share some of your ideas for journal entries with us?
I didn't try that this year, but I can see the value of doing
it?especially in the "planning a study" and descriptive statistics
parts of the course

Everybody uses a journal in different ways. I use it for independent work
which is not part of the course syllabus. I usually have two sections:

Section I:

Questions which I specifically assign. They vary tremendously but often
include:

a) Writing a few paragraphs or a page or two on an article I hand out. It
might involve topics of interest - for example when there were articles on
the proof of Fermats, I gave my precalculus class one from the newspaper and
one from a general mathematics journal and asked them to compare and contrast
what they learned from the articles. Perhaps in statistics I might give
them an article or two on the DNA testing in the OJ trail and ask them to
think of questions they might ask as a juror to an DNA expert now that they
know a little statistics.

I have discovered speaker and audience" is very important in my writing
assignments. I try to always identify who they are writing as (e.g. a
statistics student, a juror, etc.) and who the audience is (e.g. the DNA
expert, their parents, a 10th grade Geometry class).

b) Working through some interesting mathematics. Frequently I find or we
find an interesting question during class but I do not want to take the time
to fully flush it out - for example the Lim sin(x)/x as x->0 has different
values if x is in degrees rather than radians. I might ask them to try to
explain why. In AP Statistics it might be a proof of some of the theorems
which are not a formal part of the AP syllabus. Frequently the questions
appear as we look at very fine points in homework problems. I often stop the
discussion after a couple of student attempts to flush it out and say this is
now a journal question.

Section II:

Their personal section. It should include work on some technical areas of
the course they find interesting. These are often challenge problems,
questions which are raised in class which I might point out are areas for
optional further study, or simply topics which the student started working on
during homework and took beyond the assignment. It should also include some
"personal" stuff. How do they feel about the course, their feelings about
the material of the course, and/or how they are feeling about their own
mathematical ability, ....

--------------
Section I usually has about 6-8 questions per half a year and section II has
to be significant enough so that I can give it credit. My grading here is
very open ended. Serious work gets full credit, while half-hearted work gets
half-credit. From time to time there is a question with very short answers
which is correct or incorrect, but usually the questions have no one right
from 50% - 100%.

Hope this helps. How do the rest of you use journals?

Albert Coons
Chair, Instructional Technology Committee
Mathematics Department
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
Cambridge, MA
(617) 547-6100
AlCoons@aol.com

Date Subject Author
5/20/96 Al Coons
5/21/96 Beth Chance