[O.C.T.O.B.E.R. V-18] Two diamonds (Freewrite)

Frequently, we say words without meaning,  just to fill space. I am certainly guilty of this, whether the words be excess qualifiers (such as ‘very,’ ‘really,’ etc.), meaningless fillers (um, uh, and similar things) and muttering to myself or others. And I see this as a method of waiting in conversation. Here comes a stream of consciousness about waiting.

Although I do not fill conversational language with “you know” or “like” as fillers, I will be guilty of using ‘uh’ or ‘um’ a lot. Especially when teaching, those fillers pop up.

A more annoying thing is that I will sometimes repeat the beginning of a sentence as the thoughts process in my head… as if I need to repeat the sentence so as to make the whole thought come out.

In some sense, if I am writing a freewrite without any particular aim in mind, the words will wander just like my mind. It’s a figment of my personality, and hopefully it’s not too difficult to follow.

Speaking of difficult to follow, I gave my calculus students a survey at the end of the lab session. I have not looked at the surveys yet (I plan to do so after I am done writing this post), but judging solely from the in-class activity today, I expect to see some negative comments.

The activity was a review packet of exercises and problems involving differentiation. I would hope that most of the exercises would have been routine (such as using the differentiation rules, finding slopes and/or tangent lines of given functions, and symbolically using the rules of differentiation). Several of the students seemed to struggle on it, however.

Come to think of it, I feel that a similar thing happened at Stout when I did a variant on this packet. Nevertheless, I feel that simplifying the problems would make them trivial—I have already attempted to choose fairly simple problems for the online homework.

At the introductory college level, math can be a rude awakening for the students. It is a challenge of mine to figure out the best way to make the problems tough enough without being overwhelming. Even though I have avoided some of the truly tough topics (e.g. epsilon-delta definition of the limit or derivatives of symbolic inverse functions), the routine problems seem to be tripping up the students… at least in lab.

What can I do about this? Encourage office hours? Encourage tutoring sessions in the tutoring lab? Do more examples and less theory in class? Have the students do all but one of the examples in class?

Whatever the case is, it’s something that I will have to reconcile in the near future. I will read the feedback and try to respond to it in my lesson plan for tomorrow.

Time is running out on my freewrite (I’m capping it at ten minutes today), which means that I better wrap around to the title.

What does two diamonds have to do with waiting? After your partner opens two clubs in bridge to artificially indicate a strong hand, I always bid two diamonds to say, “Partner, please describe your hand further.” It’s a Waiting Bid.




Today is the eighteenth day of O.C.T.O.B.E.R. That makes two weeks and four days.

End of the Ad-Hominems: 21 days

Thanksgiving: 37 days

Lincoln: 63 days

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