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Discussion: Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time Relationships Using Simulation Software tool
Topic: Reflections on Graphing Math Tools
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/13171/


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Subject:   RE: Reflections on Graphing Math Tools
Author: Mathman
Date: Aug 3 2006
On Aug  1 2006, Suzanne wrote:
Sometimes in a middle school classroom when you are
> dealing with 36 students who have fleeting attention spans, having
> students "quickly engaged" can be a benefit. That's certainly not to
> say that the teacher would prefer to have the student slowly and
> carefully study something and there are techniques that can be used
> to encourage that behavior but it's often not the behavior that the
> students bring to the classroom.

I do not wish to be either rude or intrusive.  Nor is it appropriate to travel
too far in this direction in this excellent forum for discussion of uses of
appropriate softare.  But I must disagree in principle.  I have taught students
for around 30 years, every grade, every level in high school; those with great
skills and those with great weaknesses, and with class sizes such as you infer.
In fact THE best class ever was a grade 10 "General" with 37 students in an
outside portable.  Guidance was ewillingto change the numbers.  After I had them
for a week, I was not.

Throughout those years, my working principle was always the same.  I treated
them as if they were intelligent enough do the course within reasonable
expectations, and as if the course was in fact well-designed for them at that
age/level, with usual reasonable changes and adjustments, of course.  Although
sometimes the initial route was a battleground, one of the greatest rewards was
those students who were turned around, and who responded with "At first I hated
you, but now I think you are the best math teacher I ever had." ....

My point is that I have always thought it our task and our duty to bring them as
close as possible within their means to our level, rather than head in the other
direction.

You say, "there are techniques that can be used
> to encourage that behavior but it's often not the behavior that the
> students bring to the classroom", and I couldn't agree more.  However, I think
that their behaviour and attitude changes far more for the better when they
realise that they can in fact learn, and what they have learned they can then
carry over into the next level.  It will be a struggle, not an easy way around,
but that struggle will be well worth it, for one and all.  One more quote, and
I'm done, "Mr. D.  I came over to thank you.  We are teaching the other kids how
to do their trig. You did that."  That one was from a class that was at first
one of the worst in history; noisy, disruptive, poor background.

So, I still advocate the slow, deliberate, study of basics, and especially for
those who have difficulty.  Nothing turns them on more than success ...earned
success.  It pays off ...big time.

David.

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