## February 3, 2013

### PreCalc Reflections

Some thoughts from students and parents about pre-calc so far.  (I started this post at the end of first quarter, but never published it.  Now it has a few second quarter additions to make it relevant.)

Many parents came to me during first quarter conferences to report that students find this class hard.  Some parents were happier about this than others, but students have gotten the lecture a few times "Honors PreCalculus is supposed to be challenging, but not impossible.  If you're stuck Ask For Help!  That said, you need to try things on your own and study, which may be a new concept for you."  I was surprised to discover that juniors needed to read the article on how to study, but shouldn't have been since I actually gave parents this warning at Meet the Teacher night:
Your kids are good at math.  They have excelled so far; for some math comes easily and for others they have had to work to reach honors pre-calculus.  If your child hasn't had to work hard in math yet, this will probably be the course where they have to start.  I expect them to find some stumbling blocks as I ask them to prove their rule works, rather than giving them the rule to memorize and use.  But I know that all of them are capable of the work and look forward to teaching them.
Just like I had, some parents forgot this warning.  But I reminded them, and by second quarter I wasn't hearing the same concerns at conferences, because the students did rise to the challenge!

Student reflections on Quarter 1:

"I just still need to get used to not working with numbers and seeing these problems for what they really are."

"I think the hardest thing is to apply algebra concepts to trig functions"

"I love dayback!" (our term for after school help)

"My favorite subject so far is probably doing the proofs because I like the feeling of coming across something sneaky and understanding."

"I learn everything separately and it's hard to put it together."

"I like every topic after I understand"

"I like this class even though its kinda hard"
My initial response to reading that is: Why aren't we supposed to like things that are challenging?  Why not "I like this class because it's hard."?

One response the the question: Anything else to share?
"Yes."

Reflections on Quarter 2:
Sadly, we made the midterm far too long, so there wasn't time to have students answer the reflection questions I had planned.  I'm realizing now that I should have asked them last week, but I was too excited about plotting the Mandelbrot Fractal to remember.  However, a few students had missed some journal assignments during the quarter, so I gave them the prompt "What did you learn this quarter?" rather than looking up all the questions.

"This is easily the best class in the whole world." "Along with all of these fantastic concepts, I've had a great time with my classmates and my fantastic teacher and I can't wait to learn more!"  Slight chance he was aiming for extra points, but he is a very enthusiastic student who is excelling in the class.  He has stayed until 5 pm on a few occasions, once going above and beyond on a project, so he definitely doesn't hate me or the course.

"Ok, to be honest I actually kind of enjoy pre-calculus but I hate the way I always feel afterwards." "helping me with fighting against terrible and horrible identities" "Without [Ms. Cardone's] near-endless help I EASILY would've failed" This student struggles; math doesn't come easily to him and as an over-committed senior he doesn't have the time to dedicate to the class to be as successful as he could be.  He amuses all of us during class, and since he's in the near-silent course his endless imagination is a welcome interlude.

I look forward to hearing their thoughts on third and fourth quarters!  I just have to remember to ask...