I had only a mediocre day of teaching. Partly I feel like we’re winding down all the energy and interactivity from the first days of school, and now we’re about to start settling down into a routine. So the excitement and digging-in-voraciously doesn’t come as easily for students, and I have to figure out good ways to make that happen.
One of my favorite moments was in multivariable calculus. But here’s the thing. I have no memory. The general set up was: I said something while trying to get the SmartBoard to work, and it was the opening three or four words to some famous old school hip hop song… and a student continued it. Now only if I could remember what the song was… Stupid brain.
Both yesterday and today, I was looking at a challenging problem that I gave for advanced geometry kids to work on at home. It was designed with the expectation that no student would be able to solve it (and then later in the year, we’d revisit it). But three students among both sections of my class hit upon they key idea!
Now… here it is. I do know the best thing that happened. I gave a challenge problem to my advanced precalculus students at the start of the year, dealing with textbooks. The problem is pretty tough, and I only had students guesstimate the answer and discuss their choices. After school, this student came to the math office, grinning. He had written a computer program to simulate the problem. He described what the program could do (a lot) and what sort of data he could collect (a lot). It all sounded on the up and up. Then the student said he ran 10,000,000 simulations, and he was going to send me a screenshot of his results. I then told him some ways he could use his programs to investigate the question in different ways. What I loved most was seeing his pride and excitement when he showed me his work. By far and away, this was the best moment of today.