The Master Plan for Precalculus: (1) An Overview

I’m changing things big-time next year. This is the first in a series of posts, giving an overview of what I’m changing. Other follow-up posts will cover specific parts of the plan. Here are the other posts:

  1. An Overview [this one]
  2. Math Practices
  3. Skills
  4. Understanding & Going Beyond

For this overview, I just want to show what motivated me to do such an overhaul of Precalculus. It was motivated by multiple people on the MTBoS, but a few places in particular:

Some goals and inspirational thoughts I got from these articles:

  • I need to be grading more than just procedural skills. I can say that “thinking mathematically” and “asking good mathematical questions” are good things, but if I don’t back it up by assessing it, it won’t stick and radically change students the way I want it to.
  • Standards Based Grading, as designed, compartmentalizes skills too much. I need to make connections and encourage students to make connections between skills, showing that math is more than a set of individualized skills.  Oh, and I need to do this through assessments (see bullet point immediately above).
  • I can’t totally abandon procedural skills. I need to find a way to encourage students to practice these outside of class.

My Grading Breakdown

  • 40% Skills
  • 20% Understanding
  • 40% Math Practices

I’ll explain more what each of these mean, and how I plan to assess and teach each of these, but for now here are some comments that I believe are true about my grading system and why I like this breakdown at the moment. Oh, and all 3 of these categories will be graded using SBG.

  • A majority of a student’s grade is not be based on procedural skills.
  • A student cannot pass my class without focusing on “math practices”–habits of mind which are used by mathematicians.
  • In order to get an A in my class, you cannot just show up and take the assessments–you actually have to do something outside of class which goes “above and beyond”.
  • In order to get a B in my class, you have to understand the math that you are doing.
  • Students can target procedural skills very specifically for both practice and reassessment.

In my next post, I’ll explain more what I mean by “math practices”.



Filed under Teaching

4 responses to “The Master Plan for Precalculus: (1) An Overview

  1. Pingback: The Master Plan for Precalculus: | Hilbert's Hotel

  2. Pingback: The Master Plan for Precalculus: (3) Skills | Hilbert's Hotel

  3. Pingback: The Master Master Plan for Precalculus: (4) Understanding Concepts & Going Beyond | Hilbert's Hotel

  4. Pingback: Reflections on a Grading System | Hilbert's Hotel

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