Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Two class-days into the semester, and things are going swimmingly. I'm putting the course together with a modified Moore method, cycling (roughly) through the following steps:

  1. handing out problem sets,
  2. giving the students time in and outside of class to work through solutions in groups,
  3. asking the students to present their solutions in class,
  4. asking the students to write up solutions to selected problems as homework, and
  5. quizzes the students on completed problem sets.
As of now I've met with the first section of the course twice and the second section once, but every meeting has been lively and energetic, and I've needed absolutely no coaxing to get students to work in groups and to come to the board. The atmosphere in the course has been supportive and friendly. I'm delighted that this morning's class gave us an opportunity to note that, as I'd promised, no lightning bolts came down from the sky when a student made a mistake at the board.

It's been a long time since I taught course using anything close to the Moore method (my special topics course in graph theory, run in Spring 2008), and I notice that I've grown considerably as a teacher since then. I'm more confident, and that confidence has enabled me to feel less awkward taking a peripheral role. In particular, I find that I'm much more able to sit in silence than I was in the past. Silence in a crowded classroom is disconcerting, and it's all one can do to keep from saying something after ten or twelve seconds of quiet have elapsed. I've grown accustomed to such silences, though, just as I've grown accustomed to (or, more accurately, enamored of) the thrumming of three dozen voices trading tricks as the students work in groups in class.

I'm confident. It's going to be a good semester.

1 comment:

Bret Benesh said...

Keep us posted. I am doing some IBL stuff in complex analysis, and I could use all of the help I can get.