Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

3/18/2005

And they’re supposed to be able to graph rational functions

File under: Those Who Can't. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:39 pm.

I think - touch wood - that I’ve made some progress in precalculus in the past week. The math diary assignment, according to some of my hardworking-but-woefully -unprepared-and-hence-failing students, was really helpful - and I’m glad. I wish I’d given it earlier. Attendance suddenly soared from 50-60% to above 75%, probably because I made it clear that I seldom scale grades, and when I do, I need a better reason than “because people aren’t understanding the material and consequently everyone is failing.” I’ve also decided to give students a bit of in-class time to work alone or in groups on simple examples. I wish I could do more of that, as talking at people isn’t the best way to teach math, but we’re pressed for time as it is and the lecture format is my only hope for presenting four chapters’ worth of material to students who are as slow and as underprepared as mine. (Mind of Winter has a lot on the topic of teaching math in non-lecture formats, all worth reading.) In any case, I haven’t graded the diaries yet, nor have I really looked at the last quiz; so I’m going to hold off on claiming any measure of success until then.

However, it’s not like my students are suddenly all that when it comes to doing math at the level required of them. Not by any stretch. In particular, although I hate (not really) to make predictions at this point, I think that it’s a pretty sure bet that when a student asks “what do I need to get in the rest of the course to get the 65% I need?”, and you say “well, here are your test marks and quiz marks, and your tests so far are worth 40% and the quizzes so far are worth 8%, so you can figure it out from that” and they say “how do I do that?” - they’re not likely to get that 65%. Just sayin’.

Low-maintenance pets

File under: Know Thyself. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 8:12 pm.

In my apartment, on the wall opposite the entrance, there is a sign in my handwriting that reads “FEED THE CAT”. This is because my landlords, who are away for the week, have left me in charge of their cat, and I am the sort of person who would forget this sort of thing.

I know little about cats, but my landlords assured me that there’s not much to taking care of theirs for a week: leave the door to the room with the litter box open a crack. Scoop out the clumps of litter every couple of days. Refill the water bowl daily. Refill the bowl of pellets when it’s empty. It’s easy, they told me, and if I want to head over to the mainland for Easter then that’s okay, the cat can survive without me for a day or two.

That was two days ago, and so far, so good. The water bowl is still pretty full. As is the bowl of cat food. And the litter box looks fine, no clumpier than it was a few days ago, I don’t think, not that I’m keeping terribly close track. As for the cat herself - well, cats aren’t very social, right? They sleep all the time, right? And real-life cats don’t really respond to “heeeere, kittykitty” anyway, do they?

Then I remembered some other things my landlords said, such as, “She may be a bit confused at first when she doesn’t see us.” Noted.

And, “Sometimes if the food isn’t fresh, she won’t touch it, so you might want to change it if it’s there for awhile.” Done.

And, “She’s sixteen years old, getting on in years, and not as healthy as she used to be.”

Crap.

For the record, I am “mocks students on blog to relieve job-related stress” cruel, but not “kills landlord’s cat” cruel. For the record.