Starting in February, I'm teaching a new course in Trigonometry. What's new and different is, I'll be creating the curriculum completely on my own for the first time. So I'm trying something new: I want my Syllabus to reflect the change in the way students learn, and adjust my teaching style accordingly, so that my students gain the most benefit.
Now, I know how I've been taught Trig, and how I've been taught to teach Trig, but times haves changed since then. Not to say that the way I was taught was necessarily good; quite the contrary. But using the same style of teaching, and the same syllabus as fifteen years ago won't work anymore if I want my students to actually retain the information. The reason for this is, the way people learn in American society today has changed. And it's not just a societal or generational thing either (ref). Quite literally, our brains have changed the way that we comprehend information ( need ref). So I absolutely must change the syllabus, and the way I teach.
I've been looking at different concepts for classes. Honestly, I think that Sal Khan (Khan Academy) is a freaking genius in the way he delivers his classes. The problem that I have with Khan Academy is the material itself, and the way he covers it. Yes, I understand that it's the standard SAT GRE GMAT FCUK crap that students will just have to learn by rote. YES, he puts together a really fine tuned video that teaches one concept in five or ten minutes. (and I completely admit that this is the opposite of what I've been doing lately. I promise my math videos will get better). Yes, it's a good idea to have them test themselves and their knowledge online (Khan has an area of the website where you can test your knowledge with multiple choice questions).The Khan Academy Website is good, and it's a great catalyst for change, but his syllabus is about as old and useful as the SAT. But I really respect his presentation. I'd love to know what blackboard software he uses. I tried using Photoshop (awful for this), but I've been testing Sketchpad lately, and I think it will yield better results. One thing's for sure: if I want my students to learn what I understand about Trig, and comprehend what I'm teaching, then I need to do better than Khan in content, and at least as well in production value.
The concept of Class Flipping is brilliant. This is where the teacher has the lectures online, and "homework problems" become the main activity in class. I like this, because it gives the student time and interactive review to understand the curriculum.
But what if I could design a course that takes these concepts and goes a bit further? What if I could make Trig interesting and useful, interactive and maybe even fun: a course that could help people to retain almost all of the beauty and everyday usefulness of Trig? What would that course look like?
I'm working on it, but wow, is this a challenge! Do you have any ideas? I'd love to here them.