Review of Ungrading (Blum 2020) for use in UTM math courses

My brief, unfair summary

At its best, the book Ungrading (Blum, 2020) and its authors

  • Provide many blueprints, implementations, and reflections on ungrading practices.
  • Address many practical difficulties of implementing these practices.
  • Repeatedly make calls for revolution, and provide tools and recipes for making that happen.
  • Encourage critical pedagogy.
  • Come from a variety of disciplines and settings (K-12 vs post-secondary).

At its worst, the book and its authors

Continue reading Review of Ungrading (Blum 2020) for use in UTM math courses

Aligned teaching and punishing student success

This term I’m teaching (and coordinating) a 1200 person Integral Calculus course at UTM. Term Test 1 went surprisingly well for students, and Term Test 2 was an unqualified success (very high average, lots of people got 100% on the test).

This lead to the following (paraphrased) question on our course message board:

Is the exam going to be a lot more difficult because the averages on the term tests were so high?

I took the time to think about exactly why I don’t like adjusting the difficulty of exams based on students doing well previously. Here’s the answer I posted on our message board.

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My teaching advice and resources (so far)

As I general rule I find thinking about math pedagogy deeply rewarding. Teaching a technical and beautiful discipline like math is difficult to do well. Students come from all sorts of backgrounds, the material can be challenging, and there are tons of moving parts in a course. It’s a challenge that I find exhilarating.

On the other hand, I find the act of reading the scholarship of math education to be dreadful and unpleasant. It is filled with jargon and hero-worship.

That being said, I’ve been extremely lucky to have great mentors and colleagues to bounce ideas off of. I’ve collected some of this advice in a Reddit post, which I’ll recreate here.

Continue reading My teaching advice and resources (so far)

Delta-Epsilon Magic

2022 update: I’ve added a couple of sentences about the context of this event to emphasize how positive this experience was.

In my second year of undergrad I had a formative experience with Delta-Epsilon proofs that stuck with me for a long time. Last week I was able to provide a similar experience for some first year calculus students.

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