Sunday, December 09, 2007

Very busy

That was the "learn Chinese" phrase printed on the fortune cookie fortune I got a few nights back at the Asiana Grand Buffet.


As was the flipside, the fortune itself: "It's tempting to make promises, but can you fulfill them all?"

It's as though the cookie knew to whom it was going.

A few days back the man in charge of planning for next year's Conference on Diversity sent an e-mail to the members of the "Ideals" Subcommittee (on which I am), indicating that the subcommittee is still without a chair; he was fishing for volunteers. My finger hovered over the mouse button, itching to hit "reply," but I thought to myself, "my wife will kill me. This is no exaggeration: she will kill me."

My finger stayed.

She should be proud.

Soon after posting yesterday, I finished grading the Calc exams. They did quite well. The average between the two classes was around 78%, and very few failed. There was one 100% (yay!), one 99%, and one 98%, and a smattering of slightly lower As. Most were Bs and Cs, with a few stray Ds and only a very small handful of Fs. I'm pleased.

I had a chance to finish writing responses to the second section's poems as well. As I did with the first section's, I've saved a number of these, hoping to receive leave to post them.

Yup, the semester's coming to a close. Tomorrow's the due date for the two final exams still out (both for independent study courses) and the final paper (for the third independent study I'm directing), and tomorrow from 11:30 to 2:00 we have the last of the 280 presentations. I'm excited to know that there will be pie, provided by one of the team members deriving a continued radical expression for pi. By tomorrow evening, I should be done.

Then what?

I've had a good semester. I'd give myself a B+/A- for Calc I: high marks for ingenuity, originality, classroom skills, and general derring-do, tempered with a slightly lower grade for know, I feel like I never really clicked with a number of the students in my class, especially several in the second section. I think I'm probably overanalyzing and expecting too much of myself, but I feel as though there was a bridgeable disconnect somewhere...we'll see what kind of grade the students give me.

I'm giving myself an A for 280 this semester, I think I outdid last semester's performance. I rather like the decision to use homework committees, I think that came off rather well. I believe my conscious, directed efforts to improve mathematical writing worked wonderfully, and I'm particularly proud of the first day's assignment, as well as the Professional Proof Analysis. We had several truly exciting days of class, on which we simply said Screw it! and dove headlong into relatively unrelated mathematical ideas that struck our fancy.

All in all, the class has been great.

I've enjoyed my independent studies this semester, too. Nicodemus is fantastic at providing himself with direction, so I've hardly had to think about where to take him as he found his own way through our Abstract Algebra II course. And Bethesda's independent study on The History of Math Technology has come along nicely, too, though in retrospect two of the topics on which she's produced papers have dealt more with philosophy than technology, ultimately: her first discussed the advantages of a duodecimal (base-12) system over a decimal one, and her last (of which a final draft is due tomorrow) deals with the validity of computer-based proofs. She's really come along in her writing, I've enjoyed working with her. Felicity's managed to eke out a fine independent study, too, coordinating homework and exams over e-mail, scanning and sending me her completed problems in Linear Algebra II. I'm amazed at the ease with which I've been able to juggle all of them, their hard work has made my job an easy one.

No research students next semester (unless Sieglinde and Trixie make any major breakthroughs in graph labeling over the winter break), but I've got that one reading course in lattice theory, and I'll be working with three of my favorite blasts from the past on their 480 presentations (Fiona's let me know she's already had nightmares about her presentation).

I've got to start putting together my Moore-method notes for graph theory, and figure out a rubric and grading schema. My wonderful friend Griselda and her colleague Natalia have been kind enough to share their respective course materials for discovery-method "proofs" courses they've run at their institution. I'm sure those will serve as handy guides.

I'm going to bring this post to an end.

Coming this week (I promise promise promise): Newton v. Leibniz, in the students' words, and a bit of mathematical verse.

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