Tell them what they did right.

What’s the most important thing to tell my students tomorrow? Duh. I need to tell them what they did right on the first day. The introductions were awesome. I picked up more names than I expected too. I like that they embraced meeting someone new. They participated. I gave everyone (including those late) a participation point for the day.

In the early part of the semester, I’m mostly working on tools for success. Getting students participating in class and talking to each other and me. Getting students using LaTeX and Matlab and feeling somewhat comfortable with these. Getting students comfortable with asking for help, because they won’t be able to solve every LaTeX or Matlab problem on their own…and then we have to understand the mathematical concepts of what we are doing and know how to explain them in writing.

I generally do a fine job with that.

I often don’t do a good job of getting them to look at the many interesting examples of mathematical models. I have many articles linked up on the course home page, most are to popular press and general interest articles, so they tend toward fun to read and non-technical.

I don’t do a good job of getting students brainstorming what they might like to do for their final projects. In fact, I need to put some guidelines about this somewhere on my website!

I’ve thought about doing brainstorming in class about final projects, but I haven’t done it. We might start by brainstorming what we might like to do, or, if we have absolutely no idea, we could brainstorm on what are some important problems facing the world today. From there we can brainstorm on how math might help, how to get started, where to start. A few easy steps might yield an interesting result. Or not. If not, will I have wasted that much time?

Some potential side benefits even if it is a mostly failed experiment: maybe I will spark some interest or get them thinking about how math is applied somewhere. Maybe someone will do a Google search that they wouldn’t have otherwise done and learn something. Maybe someone will read an article or watch a video that they otherwise wouldn’t have … and learn something. Any of those would be a nice outcome. And those are all plausible outcomes.

I think the 1 minute brainstorm/just scribble ideas down storm is a good one. I am wondering how to better use it for class. We did a lot of this on Tuesday!

I looked back over my first class day information. I think I was only missing 1-2 students from either class. I think my numbers absent from the first class were on the pessimistic side. I probably counted 13-14 students right at the beginning of class, so I didn’t account for the late ones. I also think a few students who didn’t show up for the first day dropped.

Two students from the 9:35 am class have come to visit me. No one from the 2:20 class yet. Students get a small number of points for this on the first assignment. Points for what you probably should do anyway, like attendance points. I figure I will see a lot more students tomorrow/next week.

I will, at minimum, go for a walk tonight. Part of me wants a run, but it is getting later, the repairperson is still here, and the later it gets the more motivation I lose.

I should go into the office and put some things away there, too. That one is more dubious than the run!