Monday, February 26, 2018

Teach 180: Teaching the Wrong Way (Day 112)

Today I did a disservice to my period A class.  I lectured for the entire class period, which was nearly an hour long.  I could tell many of their brains were full after about thirty minutes, but I plowed ahead. So, why did I lecture for a full hour?  The answer is the AP exam; it is on May 17th.  This is the first time in fifteen or so years of teaching that the date of the AP exam has been a concern to me.

In years past, I had plenty of time to review for the AP exam.  I split my content up into bit-sized, easily digestible 40 or 50 minute chunks.  Some days were entirely for students to work through problems.  Other days were driven by a data collection activity.  Some days included lecture for part of the class period. 

In years past, we had about three weeks to review prior to the start of AP exams.  This year AP exams start about one week later and you would think that would allow me more time for my students to review for the AP exam.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Based on my estimates, we will have the equivalent of 5 one-hour classes to prepare for the AP exam.  My AP Stat colleague from souther states will have 20-30 hours.  I fear my five hours of review will be woefully insufficient.

In order to protect those five minimal review days, I chose to take two 30 minute lectures today and put them in one 60 minute lecture.  It is true that 2 x 30 = 60 and technically, the timing equates.  We talked about null and alternative hypotheses, p-values, the wording of conclusions, type I and type II errors, and quickly touched on power of a test.  Basically, three big ideas that should have been separated into 2 or 3 separate class periods.   Yes, it would have been better to separate these ideas, but spending an extra day on content now means one less review day in the future.

Teaching in longer periods will still be my reality next year at my new job.  So, what will I do differently?  Mostly, I'll plan better.  No time was allocated for teachers to do this at the beginning of the year or to pay them for this work over the summer.  Had we been given time to work within our departments, we would not be scrambling to determine what content will be left out of our curricula for the remainder of this year.  Or better yet, we could have reviewed the math curriculum that was over 12 years old to determine what content really matters the most.

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