Back to School

August 15, 2011 at 5:48 am Leave a comment

We head back to school today at College of the Sequoias. This was the first time I did not teach in the summer, as summer school was cancelled due to budget issues. I love teaching in the summer – students are more motivated, you form good bonds with students – but there were some positives to having the summer “off”.

I took two classes this summer. The first was Econ 101. I saw how the “My____Labs” classes work from the student perspective, and that should help me to understand what my students are going through. I also took a Podcasting class, which I plan to use to help the students in my online elementary algebra class understand. Besides a short video explaining what will be going on each week, I will supplement my written section summaries with video summaries.

I also had time to think about changing my traditional classroom approach. In my on class algebra classes I will be flipping the class – students will learn some of the basic ideas at home and after a short “lecture” they will spend most of their class time solving problems collaboratively.

I have completely changed the grading policy in my intermediate algebra class and added in numerous game design elements to the class, incorporating in the concept of mastery learning. Students can earn anywhere from 0-3 points on each exam, depending on their score on the test and their homework/quiz performance. Students who fail the exam but have satisfactory homework/quiz scores will be able to retake the test to earn 1 point. In addition to the 6 exams, there will be some unannounced bonus points and 100 points for the final exam. Students need 76 points for a C, 88 for a B, and 100 for an A.

I will be blogging about both of these classes this semester, as well as my statistics class. I will focus on two main ideas – which topics can be deleted from the traditional statistics course and the incorporation of StatCrunch as a calculation/communication tool. I am teaching my statistics class in the computer lab and I am really looking forward to it. I am also wrestling with which topics no longer make sense to cover in a statistics class with a heavy technology approach.

Finally, I am looking for guest bloggers. Doing something different? Have a philosophy you want to share? Read a great book that you want to review? Drop me a line and I’ll work you into the lineup.

Have a great semester!

– George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Does It Have To Be Boring? Tests in my Mastery Based Class

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