First and foremost, super exciting news: Calculus Camp 2010 is now fully funded!! That’s $8,050.51 in one and a half weeks! I am so excited and grateful for the many incredible people I both know and do not know who have contributed. This year, 100% of our class is going up to camp and my personal goal is to get 80%+ of them to pass.

Secondly, I am absolutely, positively, in LOVE w/ my new class of freshmen this year. It’s been about three years since having freshmen and I had forgotten what I loved so much about them. Admittedly, their math skills have never been lower, but wow are they learning fast and I’m loving their energy and spunk.

And I LOOOOVE their questions!! They don’t stop asking them! At first I thought it just might seem that way b/c I have 40 of them in one class, but then I thought back to when my Calculus class started, it was 42 students big and still eerily quiet.

For example, today, we were multiplying out a product of binomials. We got to an example that said something like:

(3x – 1) (x + 5)

3x (x + 5) – 1 (x + 5)

3x^2 + 15x – x – 5

3x^2 + 14x – 5

This is when one of my students asks, *“How can I check my answer?”*

Wow. I’ve seriously been question-deprived over the last years cuz this warmed my heart. AND, it stumped me for a bit too! I was seriously stumped for about a second when it suddenly dawned on me that this was a great opportunity to talk about equations vs expressions again and the equivalency of each line in simplifying expressions. So I showed them how to plug in numbers to the first and last line to see if they gave them the same output. When we tested it, I literally heard a reaction of “cool”s across the class.

I’ve died and gone to teaching heaven.

Then one of them actually asks me “*Did you just come up with that right now or did you learn that from somewhere?*”

Dah! ***Realization of a Teacher FAIL*** I should have asked THEM to think of a way to check. THEY have to believe they can come up w/ such a thing. I don’t think it was as effective when I told them they could have done the same. Boo on me for my sudden love of being needed and for being ill-prepared for such a question.

Another great question came up yesterday that I almost overlooked this time around (but understood why they were confused so much better after this). We were solving for x and y intercepts where I make them write their answers in coordinate form. For example, (3, 0) and (0, -4). This is when one of them asks me, “*Can’t we just combine the answers to write (3, -4)?*”

*Awesome* A great question though b/c I used to see this all the time . Being better prepared this time around though, the question was deflected to another student in class. Best part, NO ONE made that mistake on their test! Not a single one out of 40!

This is huge, ladies and gentlemen, for only half of them are passing with a C, B, or A. Literally. They are growing in leaps and bounds though and I’m* so sad* that this 8-week term has been shortened by one whole week to compensate for budget cuts!!

Seriously! LAUSD needs nothing short of a miracle. Everyone was celebrating at school while me, only one other coworker, and my Calc kids were super sad for the cut class time. (Heh. We definitely breed kids just like us, don’t we. I’m making Calculus Mini-Mes. =P) One week more of vacation while running off 6 hrs of sleep a night and I’m sad? Dang, my friend was right. This job is hazardous to my health!

jinna, you’re awesome