Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 31: Assessment & Sketchpad

Hectic day. We took the 4th and final quiz (Angle Pairs) of the unit before the formative assessment. Afterwards, we rushed to the computer lab to work through an intro activity getting students familiar with Geometer's Sketchpad as we'll start using GSP as a discovery tool starting next week. 

So far, the quiz results are mildly disconcerting. Generally, students can classify angle pairs, but have no idea what to do with that information. They're easily flummoxed by algebraic expressions in place of discrete angle measurements. For example, saying "Angles 1 & 2 are a linear pair. Angle 1 = 50 deg and Angle 2 = ?" is solvable, but the exact same problem with Angle 1 = 2x+10 leaves students stumped. 

This confirms prior observations that even students who have been successful with math (specifically algebra) in the past have no real understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it. I see the same phenomenon in physics with students who can graph anything in math class, but can't wrap their heads around the idea that 'y' is really just a label for the dependent variable which can be anything (same for 'x'). 

We spend so much time and effort drilling rote procedures into math students, that we (and more importantly, they) have lost all perspective as to our purpose. 

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