How do you keep up with your content?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by orangetea, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Feb 27, 2012

    There's a teacher at my school who teaches nothing but Geometry and Statistics. He's a WONDERFUL teacher...the kids love him. His honors geometry class is one of the most challenging courses I've seen in high school. He's maybe 50-55 yrs old.
    I was talking to him and a few other teachers a few days ago and we were discussing a problem. It involved basic integrals, which is a Calc 1 topic. This teacher said something like "I totally forget how to do integrals. What are they again?"
    My school offers up to Multivariable Calculus (which I could never teach), but I really want to keep up with material up to Calc 1 or 2 at least. I just got out of college 2 years ago, so everything is still really fresh in my mind. But what do you do to make sure that the content above what you teach doesn't go away?
    Like how does a World History teacher remember European History well enough to teach it, etc.?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 27, 2012

    Extra tutoring sessions for higher or lower level classes. Pulling out the texts and doing some review from time to time. Reading journals on your subject area.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 27, 2012

    This year I've been giving lots of Calculus extra help to the Seniors. I haven't taught Calc since 2000.

    I readily admit that I'm rusty on it. I can get through, but not with the fluidity that I can get through material I've taught more recently.

    I'm also doing some freelance writing on topics I haven't seen since the 1990's. Again, I'm having to work harder than I would if it were, say, geometry. It's keeping my skills fresh.

    At this point, I could go in tomorrow and teach any math course my building offers. But some. like Calc, would require a bit more prep than others.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I really wish I could say that, but I don't think I would be able to. I don't think I could do a good job of teaching Statistics, Calc 2, or Multivariate. All of this is material I've seen, it's just not solid enough that I would be comfortable with it. I think I would be able to if I got my masters in my content area, but financially that wasn't possible.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yeah, but at this point I've taught every course in our building. (Though we only go up to Calc I.)

    The first time I taught Calc, I was department chair, teaching Precalc. I was coaching Forensics on a Saturday. I went to return the van keys, and saw an "Alice, stop in to see me" note where the keys went-- from the principal. This on a Satruday evening.

    So I went down to his office, and found that the Calc teacher had been hospitalized. And that, effective Monday morning 1st period, I was teaching Calc. And that, as chairman, I also needed to get 4 other teachers up to speed on Precalc.

    So I did it. The last time I had seen Calc I had been during the Ford administration, but I did it. And I loved teaching it.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I think English is a little bit easier. Right now I teach 8th, 10th, and 12th and Speech. Really the only ones that have things that NEED to be taught in them are American and British Literature. The rest at our school is up to the individual teacher. Having the grade ranges also helps me stay fresh on all the current grammar and writing things and with only one grade in between it definitely is helpful as the material builds subtly. I do try and stay active by reading as much as I can though!
     
  8. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Feb 27, 2012

    ^^^
    Which is exactly why I want to stay on top of things. I want my department head to be able to count on me to fill in for higher level classes or have my former students be able to see me for extra help for another class if their teacher isn't free.
    Off topic but, I would die of happiness if I was ever assigned to teach Calculus. I just love it so much because it's when I really started to love math.
     
  9. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    I have a question about statistics. I am not a teacher at this moment. I am a mom. My daughter has taken everything from Algebra to Calculus. (Not too bad for a girl who claims to not love math.) In any event, she usually does well and takes AP courses when offered. This year she is taking statistics. It is totally kicking her butt. (Sorry - her words.) What is the deal? How can she have no problems with what I THOUGHT were more difficult math choices and have trouble with statistics? It is an AP class. But, is there something more to this than I am aware of OR do you think she might have senioritis?
     
  10. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think Statistics is extremely hard, and I found Calculus to be easy! I don't think it's just your daughter; it's a really hard subject for some people.
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I think Statistics is different than other math courses. I didn't take Calc but took Stats in college and LOVED it. I was terrible at geometry and okay at algebra but I really thrived in stats.
     
  12. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Feb 27, 2012

    I don't teach math, but rather social studies. I do several things to keep up, but prefer to simply teach a variety of courses, thus forcing me to stay on top of things. Between my current building and my summer school work, I've taught every single subject in my department except for Psychology (which I'm not qualified for). If I haven't taught something for awhile, I will ask for a section of it for the following year, simply to keep myself fresh.

    I also read a lot, which works nicely for history/social studies. I'll also frequently take a college course or two in some historical area that I'm not strong in. That also helps.
     
  13. kme93

    kme93 Companion

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    Feb 27, 2012

    Statistics is just different. For example, geometry is just different than algebra. You need algebra in geometry, but they're a different kind of math. Algebra and Calculus are all the same "type" of math. The same topics turn up over and over - slope, lines, solving polynomials, etc. Statistics is really the first class they they walk into and haven't seen ANY of the material before, except on the most basic, bare bones level. Calculus made me fall in love with math, statistics kept me interested.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 28, 2012

    Ron, I think that's really the easiest way to keep on top of your content. The greater the variety of courses you're capable of teaching well, the deeper and broader your knowledge of the material. It sometimes enables you to make the connections that lead to those "AHA" moments for the kids. Any time you can say "remember last year, when we taught you...? Well, here's another application" you can see the kids nod their heads.

    Likewise, any time you can say to the kids "This is something you'll need next year, for yet another application" it helps with the inevitable "When are we going to use this?" questions that some of the kids are inevitably thinking. Better yet, if you can give them a hint, some will go look it up.

    Each time I teach Freshmen, when we get to the part obout sets of numbers, I mention the Imaginary numbers, even though they're NOT part of the freshman syllabus. I always include the quick mention, and tell them they'll learn about Imaginary and Comples numbers as Juniors.

    I can't remember a time when a kid didn't come in the next day, saying he had looked them up, and that they involved taking the square root of a negative number. It's not freshman math, but they were intrigued enough to look it up. Even my lowest track kids always do it.

    When I cover trig with the special triangles in Geometry, I let my kids know that next year they'll have to memorize the sin, cos and tan of certain values: 0, 30, 45, 60, 90, 180, 270 and 360. We work out the "why" this year so that next year's memorization will come a bit easier. And they're willing to do it, knowing that there's a reason I'm spending the time on it now.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 28, 2012

    I teach all levels of my subject every year. For my subject, this means that I always have at least 4 preps: Level 1, Level 2 Honors, Level 3 Honors, and AP. I don't really have a chance to forget the material, so it works out. Besides that, there aren't usually a lot of new developments in the world of ancient languages, so I don't have to keep up with very much new material. There are only so many extant works of Virgil, for example, so once you've read them a few times, you kind of know them.
     
  16. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think the issue is that I don't think we get to pick what we teach. So I could teach only Algebra 1 and Geometry for the next 4 years possibly.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That's probably a good thing. As I remember, you're a new teacher, right? You want a couple of years with each prep to really get a feel for the material. Figure about 3 years before you can anticipate the questions the kids will ask and can decide on the explanation most likely to foster real understanding.

    Something else that will help keep lots of your math skills fresh is SAT prep.

    While a LOT of the test is about strategy, there are a fair number of formulas and approaches with which you need to be familiar.

    Also, outside tutoring can expose you to quite a few different courses.
     
  18. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Feb 28, 2012

    I stay current by reading a LOT on my own. Since I've been teaching outside of my original subject area this year, that's meant a lot of teaching myself new material on my own time!
     
  19. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Yup! This is my first full time teaching assignment. From September-December, I did a long term sub for Remedial Math.
     
  20. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I can't stay current with my subject. It is changing constantly. Every year I have some student tell me about something he/she saw on tv or on the internet and I didn't have a clue about it @@

    I stay current with my state's standards. That is my goal. I tell my students that I can't possibly know everything there is to know about science, or even about the things they are most interested in. Instead, I see it as my job to teach them how to find the answers themselves and discern what is 'good science' versus bogus junk that made it in the paper.

    It is great when I can pull in new ideas, of course, but there is just too many new things happening for me to know about all of them.
     
  21. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    If you don't mind, just out of curiosity, what is your subject?
     
  22. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    It's so great that you were able to spark their interest like that. I struggle with that a lot in my lower level classes.
     
  23. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 29, 2012

    Science.
     
  24. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Mar 1, 2012

    I teach World Geography, US History, American Government, Sociology, and Economics. I read a lot of material, stay up to date on current events, take college courses, read journals, watch documentaries on TV, etc., and the more I learn, the more I realize that I don't know. It's very intimidating, but it's not a knowledge contest. The bottom line is that I'm doing the best I can in my situation, at the very least pointing students in the right direction if I am not a master in one particular sub-content area.
     
  25. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    I read all kinds of stuff. If I come across something I don't know, I look it up. It's a lifelong habit. I have that same "more you know more you know you don't know" thing.
     

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