Help! My class is boring!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by kme93, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. kme93

    kme93 Companion

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    Aug 21, 2011

    First year teacher - just finished first week of school

    I'm teaching Algebra 2 Honors and Geometry. My algebra class is fun. During notes the kids are engaged and asking insightful questions. I "lecture" with guided notes. I explain something, then have them do a problem. When most people look like they are done I'll have someone tell the answer and we will do 'stomp if you agree, snap if you don't'. I'm excited in this class and I know it shows. I look forward to this class all day.

    My geometry classes are so boring. I don't know if it's the fact that I teach three geometry classes and only one algebra class, but this class bores me to tears. Also, I don't really like geometry. In this class I also use guided notes and sort of lecture the whole time. I ask kids questions (like "Using what you know, what do you think a good definition for angle would be?") to try to get them involved, but they just sit like a bump on a log. I have tried using manipulates (m&ms, pretzels, and notecards) for points, lines, and planes. We used them to construct the definitions of things we were discussing. It doesn't help that most of the beginning of geometry is just learning terms and rules.

    I have lesson plans done and that's not the problem. We have to use guided notes and all follow the same lesson plans. However, I'm free to present the lesson however I want. Is this just the difference between regular and honors classes? How can I liven things up? My mentor is a HUGE proponent of think-pair-share, but I hate that. I hated it as a student and I don't like it as a teacher. I'm just having a hard time finding that sparkle that I need to make it interesting. Also, I know if I'm bored, the kids are totally bored.

    Note: It may seem like I'm prematurely concerned. However, this is a smaller school and the classes are small. These kids all know each other, and they're very comfortable. My class sizes are 12, 18, 12, and 16.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2011

    OK, I have to admit; the beginning of Geometry is INCREDIBLY boring!!!! It's day after day of boring definitions, and there's really nothing you can do about it.

    All I do is warn the kids what they're in for-- pretty much a solid week of definitions before I can really throw any problems at them. (By then we hit complements, supplements and vertical angles. When we do, I throw in both quadratics and systems of equations, and the problem solving mode kicks in.) But in the meantime, I pretty much just power through it. It's important, but it's dull no matter what you do.

    In the meantime, I pull out every joke I can find. When we talk that first day about undefined terms, I ask someone to define "desk." Then I playfully shoot down every single definition they give me. "Oh, like a kitchen table?? Oh, like a notebook??" They have fun with it. Then I tell them that I had been kind-- imagine if I had asked them to define "the." From there we segue into undefined terms.

    When we talk about why postulates are accepted without proof, I give the example of a 2 year old you're babysitting, who asks "WHY??" to everything you ask of him. "Tommy, it's time for bed. Why? Because it's 8 o'clock. Why? Because it's night time. Why? Because little boys need sleep. Why?...." I go on for quite a while then end in exasperation with "Because I said so!!!" and bring on the need for accepting things without proof.

    My little rants give them a quick break from notes, and help build a relationship-- they realize I'm trying to make it enjoyable.

    Where are you in the material? What topics are coming up??

    But geometry becomes a lot of fun to explore. It's one of the few high school math classes where you really have to THINK, not just follow the rules from step A to B. You're given a diagram with some info and an "X" and each problem is different. You don't start with X, you start with the information you're given and follow the trail to X. I really love teaching it, once we get past that first week or so.

    And proofs are my favorite!
     
  4. Galois

    Galois Companion

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    Aug 22, 2011

    A business dies not because of lack of funds, but because of lack of ideas.

    So here it goes: by the mere fact that Alice is using, "My little rants give them a quick break from notes, and help build a relationship-- they realize I'm trying to make it enjoyable" - Alice is making use of the interpersonal intelligences of your students. I would bet that if you have an honors algebra class, I would predict that most of them would be highly mathematical/logical. What about your visual students - here I would introduce graphic organizers (tons of them) to use even for definitions. Use a Family Feud (canned questions) game or "go to your corner" game for the kinesthetic and to make it interactive. Do you get my drift? (again, Alice words). I would use rap or mnemonic device for the highly musical - example y = mx + b (if teaching algebra) - define "You(Y) are my(M) "X" and b(boyfriend)/ There is no time to sleep: they see, they touch or feel, they sing, they stand , etc. - who said math is boring?

    I'm late for my first day of orientation - see you later. Thanks for posting this very important topic. As always, thanks, Alice for your posts. I always learn from them.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Galois, you posted that 55 minutes ago.. Go to SCHOOL :p
    (said in my very best "mom voice.")
     
  6. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Here here!:thumb:

    Thank you both Alice and Galois for the great ideas! I love this forum.

    KME93, I can only add that they might be sending you crickets because they can feel that you don't like the subject either. This will be my first year teaching math so I know I will come to some subjects where I feel the same as you. Maybe try to find more excitement for the subject yourself. Alice and Galois gave some great ideas that would probably make geometry more fun for YOU as well! Good luck...off to orientation!
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2011

    kme, start building excitement for what's to come.

    For example, once you can actually get into some material, have them talk their way through a proof.

    Say you're covering the theorem that says "complements of congruent angles are congruent." Ask them how they know. Draw a picture with 2 overlapping right angles, and label the angles 1,2,and 3. Since 1 and 2 are complements, and 2 and 3 are complements, then 1 and 3 are congruent, right? It's basically a 2 step proof using the Substitution postulate. Make that the buzz-phrase of your class-- "Oh, yeah? Can you prove it??" And while you're at it, make a plug for kids to join the Debate team. Debaters tend to have an easier time with proofs, and it in turn makes them better at debate.

    Also, build for the MEGA CIRCLE you'll do when you hit circles. (My friend has all my geometry notes. Remind me in a few weeks, and I'll mail it to you.)

    Think about a project you can assign (we do a scale drawing project the kids love. Let me know your email address if you want me to send it.)

    Whenever possible, tie things into the real world. So, for example when we do Surface area (my least favorite chapter) I grab a tissue box off the desk and talk about gift wrapping it as "green" as we can-- with no wasted paper. When we talk about area, I point to the ceiling tiles and point out the irregular ones in the corner and along the edges. Volume? I talk about packing peanuts and how their irregular shape means there's more space between-- cheaper, but not an accurate way to evaluate volume, so little plastic cubes would be better.

    Tie it into their world, and it will be a lot more interesting.

    Once you get beyond those first definitions that is.
     
  8. kme93

    kme93 Companion

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    Aug 22, 2011

    This is where I am. I'm in the middle of the introduction chapter. We're doing angles and relationships today. Friday is a Geometer Sketchpad activity, next Monday is review and their test is Tuesday a week from today.

    I did something similar. I made them try to define wall. One kid eventually said, "Ugh, you know what I mean." Which was perfect.


    I'm looking forward to starting proofs, but it seems like it's forever away. I like some of Galois' ideas, but I have to get through this boring part before I can do anything. I have a couple fun games I want to play, but I have to give them the info first.

    Thanks.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2011

    OK, angles and relationships is good. It's lots of easy fodder for your first test, and it's very visual. It also opens the door for some lightheartedness (why is that particular angle " a cute angle" while that one is "obtuse"?? Has your boyfriend/girlfriend ever called you "obtuse"??? Trust me, they're not calling you cute!!!)

    Also, when you get to reflex angles, it presents them with a cool concept-- that you want the part of the angle your eye is NOT drawn to-- the area around the acute/obtuse angle.

    And tomorrow you can hit some problems with complements, supplements and vertical angles... yay!
     
  10. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2011

    I've found that teaching classical logic alongside geometry helps a ton. I did a two week test prep course for our AVID kids in geo last year and the first day we didn't do any math at all. We talked about Socrates, Plato and the accompanying logic problems and proofs they came up with.

    That sure seemed to spark some interest.
     

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