Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How tweet it is

My Calc II students were all atwitter again today. I knew today's tweet would treat them to a challenge: I asked them to (in 140 characters or fewer) summarize the method of partial fractions for integrating rational functions. Anyone who has more than a passing memory of Calc II likely remembers that the process is not particularly hard...but it's long as hell and therefore difficult to summarize succinctly.

Those I felt were some of the students' strongest tweets are below, complete with intentional spelling errors and sparse spacing. I think they did very well (only a couple of them seemed to miss the method altogether...if you're one of those people, please don't hesitate to come on by my office; we can go over another example or two together).


"1)long divide 2)factor 3)look for decomposition 4)anti-differentiate 5)find constants"

"1.long division if degree_top>degree_bottom.2.factor denominator.3.A/linear&Bx+C/irreducable quads. cross-mult.denomxnumerators.4.solve A,B,C"

"to integrate fractions, 1st long divide, then factor separate the integral and solve if not solvable separate out each term bottom and the" [ran out of room!]

"1poly long division 2factor3decompose w/each factor in the denominator4integrate5cross multiply and solve for each constant."


They're definitely growing more accustomed to writing in this highly constrained genre, one which encourages concision and carefulness, and the ability to get right to the heart of the matter.

1 comment:

Jack Derbyshire said...

I really like this method of review and comprehension. Its really frustrating and tough, but at the same time it helps me a lot. It forces me to think of the core steps necessary and remember these steps. Fantastic idea!

(I'll also be sure to use it when I'm teaching over the summer!)

Thanks for being a great professor, Patrick!