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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SOS... CME ... MTBoS

I've been looking through the CME Precalculus book and I think its wonderful.

I was just given precalc to teach, and while I've taught Alg1, Alg2 I've never seen, or can't recall ever having been taught or asked to consider the way some of the stuff in this textbook is presented.

 I think some of the ways they have introduced things is very interesting, ie complex numbers as an introduction and standard used throughout as a means of working with Trig identities.  I've never seen it before, and I understand what is happening mathematically; I also know that I'm not sure how to teach it.

The work CME provides is a good start, but only for students really prepared for that level of material.  My students lack many of the skills and the confidence which comes with them, to drive the discourse.  In my school we've discussed the issue of students cramming for assessment, without really learning the material and we agree it is an issue that needs to be fixed.  We've been working on this issue, and slowly it is being addressed, but this is a systemic issue - not one fixed easily.

As I've been working through the material, I've though how great it would be if a textbook publisher was clever enough to take advantage of the potentials of social media and how it could be a great resource, for the educators who perhaps haven't seen this material (in this way) or for whom such mathematics was 20+ years ago.

If there were a weekly/biweekly chat, a chat room or a means of connecting with other teachers using this material I know it would make me even more strongly interested in using it.  (granted this might require engaging the teaching community in a more personal way than most textbook manufacturers currently do it). Recruiting and advertising should occur fairly locally as many teachers who aren't very -social media savy do speak with other teachers at least locally.

One more thing....  Textbook manufacturers MUST consider making and perhaps offering resources (as in free, gasp) to help teachers remediate key skills in mathematics, especially at the secondary level, though not exclusively.  Had I known I was teaching this class, I would have actually spent much of the summer looking at the curriculum.  (which I do recognize is not universally standardized, which makes a social media solution better than a one-size fits all)

I know that there are many teachers who use no textbook at all.  I actually went 90% of the way there in Alg1 and Alg2.  I also know that there are teachers who go page to page in the book.  (and by way of full disclosure I think I know one of the contributors).  

I'm not yet ready to make really good decisions about how to teach this.  A popular addition to many textbooks is the student goal section.  I bet teachers would like to see the "necessary skills list" in addition to a series of activities or examples as good as those explaining the necessary content.

I've got friends in the #MTBoS who help with this, for me.  Textbook manufacturers needs to plan on enticing teachers like me as well as ones for whom that hashtag thing is a mystery, or just plain silly.

I was given a recommended pacing and curriculum (which was simply all the (+) standards) and told to"go" partway through the marking period.

Already I see concerns with the curriculum.  Vectors with Logarithms?  Complex with matrices?

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