# Changes for the New Year

So, I had recently blogged about some ideas to change the pace of my Calc BC class and I want to report on how it is going so far. We are one (partial) week into the new year. We lost Tuesday to extreme cold and I am losing the second of my two BC classes today because I’ll be visiting another classroom. As department chair, it is one of my obligations (and one of my real pleasures) to visit my colleagues to watch them at work.

I have two very different sections of BC this year. My morning class has seven students and they are somewhat reluctant to work together. They get along fine, they are just much more independent workers by nature. My afternoon class has seventeen students and they are much more social and collaborative.

I want to summarize the past two days by section, rather than by day.

Yesterday, my afternoon class also met in the computer lab to work with Desmos. Again, I spent about three to five minutes looking at an animated drawing of the polar curves I mentioned above. For the next thirty minutes the class had a consistent hum of chatter, people arguing with each other about conclusions, kids looking at each other’s work. When I reconvened the class to focus on the same k = -2 case, they were engaged. telling me what the hyperbola equation was, catching a mistake I made in factoring, just a lively discussion. When class ended, I checked in with two students who were just packing up. One of them said something to the effect that my class made his head hurt a bit. He said it cheerfully and his neighbor said that my class was ‘interesting’ which is the word I use to describe difficult or challenging questions. He, too, said this rather cheerfully. I won’t be around to see them work on the problem sheet but I have asked the colleague who is subbing for me to collect their work so I can see what they can accomplish and how they approached these problems.

Now, I am left with these questions as I move forward.

1. How do I create a situation so that my first period class actually talks to each other?
2. Is it important enough to make that happen, given that they are productive workers? I have a pretty strong belief that talking about ideas is important, but I don’t know how to win this class over to that point of view. Is my personal bias important enough to try to change the nature of my learners in my 1st period class?
3. Can I build momentum for these problem solving days if they only happen once per week?

I’ll keep reporting on progress and I’ll keep an eye on any wisdom that you can share int he comments section.

## One thought on “Changes for the New Year”

1. Your early class sounds like my class of 4. There just aren’t enough potential voices to get them going, and three are very introverted. Truth be told, in high school, I also preferred to work by myself, even though it weirds me out now.

It bothered me a lot at first (my class of 5 last year worked together constantly, even when I didn’t want them to), but now I see that it’s just how they do things. Even when I assign labs that need group data, they diligently collect their numbers and share, and then work alone again.

To try to get them to talk, I banned raising hands to ask questions and comments. It’s slightly freeing, but they still just don’t ask much. I do a lot of (essentially) Think Pair Share, without the pair step, asking for different methodolgies and opinions of others’ work.

What’s your concern about not having group work? Do they hate it, or are they okay with it?