What a difference a day makes. Or a summer.
I am teaching math at Pima Community College part time (to pay for my nifty vacations), and although at least half of the students are recent high school graduates and have tested into Foundational Studies in Mathematics, which mean that they can’t do algebra or geometry (the course starts with This is integer, This is a Whole Number), all of the students are paying attention! No paper wads thrown. No kids coming in stoned. No students attending without supplies. And when they come into the classroom, they’re quiet and attentive!!
(See my blog www.notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/phew-2 for a contrast to high school students.)
Of course, this being a community college, some of the students are older. One said that he was on the G.I. Bill. In one class there are three deaf students, and a signer for them. Some students are getting an associates (two-year) degree. Others are hoping to transfer to a university after they have their basics down.
These classes are new; all of the instruction is done through a computer program (by Pearson) and the students go at their own pace. They can pretest through modules that are easy for them (but they need to pass with 80%). A video on concepts before each unit. Preliminary concept questions. If they miss a homework question, the computer will give them another to try. They must get 90% (!) on each homework assignment to take a post test – which they need an 80% on to continue to the next module. (Contrast that to teens who have flunked algebra being put in geometry classes!)
Two instructors in the classroom, another in the math lab, which is open all day, to answer questions. (I am in the math lab now, proctoring a pretest.) Of course, the students can do their homework on a home computer. They only need to come to the lab for extra help or to take quizzes and tests. Seems like a good deal to me. The work of the 35 modules, through advanced algebra, would normally take four classes. A diligent student can do the work in two or three semesters, and, going at his own pace, he should never be bored.
The west side campus is 3 minutes from my house and is quite attractive. Noted that the lounge chairs in the corridors, the concrete benches outside are full of young students all texting. Doesn’t anyone talk anymore?
The University had half-price tickets to the Zoppé Family Circus – one ring, no lions and tigers and bears, oh my! – just a clown, acrobats, horses and dogs. The grandkids loved it, especially the clown.
They also enjoyed “bushwhacking”, tramping through the underbrush behind my house to the wash where we speculated on animal dens, scat, water flow direction, gnawed cactus, and they collected rogue golf balls, filling their pockets (to what purpose?)
My next-door-neighbor is adding a second floor to his house, an extra bedroom for visiting family, and the daily noise has scared off all animals except small birds. No roadrunner, bobcat, javelina, deer, coyote around.
Didn’t ask how long the project will take. In addition to the noise – no big deal as I’m not home most of the time during the week – there is the dust. My house is covered, inside and out. (Guess it’s not sealed as tightly as office buildings.) And, of course, the granite countertops, travertine floors, and extensive windows show the dust.
But, when I’m not teaching, working out at the Y, attending two U of A Humanities courses (Twentieth Century Art and Comedy in the Theater) or the art museum’s Contemporary Art Society lectures and art tours, I can fill my time by swabbing the deck!