Monday, March 14, 2011

Calm before the storm

Crossed the half way point of the term and things finally calmed down for a few hours.  Most of my nine's have now completed their NAPLAN revision and we have a few lessons up our sleeve for the end of term.  They're settling down now that they are starting to realise

a) don't come to lessons unprepared or you will have to sit down the back doing lines and redo the lesson at lunch time.
b) don't do homework or you will stay in until it's done
c) refuse punishment and the number of lunchtimes double - the first with me and subsequent ones with the team leader.

It's old fashioned but the results speak for themselves.  Students that do their work feel good about themselves and students that would otherwise have fallen through the cracks are slowly coming online.  The next lesson is using the CAS calculators - so at least it will be a break from NAPLAN preparation and book work.

Our academic extension class started this week and the first five year 9 and 10 students experienced linear algebra ala aliens. We created bullets using linear equations and shot aliens with them.  Using CAS calculators made this quite fun experimenting with different spots on the hill (the hill was the y axis and we modified c for different points on the hill) and changing the angle of the laser (modifying m). Next lesson we'll use a series of linear equations to reflect bullets off mirrors.  I hope to extend this to matrices later as it is an obvious fit (even if it is only linear equations).  We'll do four lessons of this and then do some isometric and oblique drawing outside to help them visualise objects in 3D before starting some ballistics using quadratics and calculus before revisiting linear equations (with the ice cream example) and optimising some finance solutions.  At the end they were asking whether we could go for two hours instead of one (groan!).

A number of EPW's went out for my 11 and 12's including the Finance EPW I wrote over the last four weeks.  It seems common that 2C students don't know how to use their calculators and teachers are not confident an investigative approach is the best way to learn them.  Three teachers in my small group have all raised concerns about the EPW (seemingly without reading it) but we shall see how it goes.  Given that the answers are provided, online links to assistance has been given and they have a week to investigate, I lack understanding why this is so hard.  We shall see.

My tens are confidently using spreadsheet and finance mode on the CAS to solve a variety of compound interest and repayment problems.  I hope they don't face the same issues as the current year 11's when doing 2C and 3A with regards to using the calculator.

As always 1B's seem to underestimate the difficulty of the course and seemingly need to fail a test before they realise that they need to study.  I'm pretty sure my bunch are not going to top the three groups this time - but I have hope yet that some in class revision will turn them around.

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