153-154 Course Feedback – PreCalc H

Here’s a breakdown of some of the Course Feedback from my PreCalc H students

-1. If you had a friend taking this class next year, what advice would you give them?

  • Challenge yourself with problems you don’t know the answer to yet. Try to figure things out on your own before you learn the real formulas and methods.
  • Make sure you study the feedback keys and know the technique/skill instead of just memorizing the questions on the feedback quizzes.
  • Don’t be afraid of this course. Mr. Anderson has an amazing teaching style that makes this course a lot less intimidating so don’t be scared. Also, take advantage of reassessments and don’t leave them till the last couple weeks of the quarter.
  • I would tell them that throughout the year, Danderson is going to teach you things that are just way above your head. He is going to use these complex examples that make no sense to you… at first. Soon enough, he’ll explain how he is getting all of these crazy formulas and all the shortcuts to get the answer. So, the biggest thing is that you can’t give up during class. You have to stay focused and try to understand even if you have no idea what is going on, because later on, you’ll be able to look back and understand everything that he did and learning the material is much more easier.


0. What could we do differently in class (and out) so that you could learn better?

  • Have more time practicing, or go over a few things before quizes.
  • I would try your best in class, even if you thi k you are messing up. You learn from your mistakes. Come afterschool if you need help on anything.
  • I think maybe before we take b quizzes we could do some practice problems the class before so we are able to ask questions on the material if we have any.
  • If we do homework, I would like it if we went over the material a bit more.
  • Assign questions for homework that would be checked.
  • … Out of class, assigning mandatory homework would be great as it allows you to try problems totally by yourself. Then, we should make it a point to go over it the next day in class.
  • I would like to have a recap at the end of each class, maybe 2 minutes to review what we did.

5. In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.

  • If you make a mistake, most of the time Danderson won’t tell you what the mistake is exactly, he will tell you where you made a mistake, but it is up to you to find out how to fix your mistake. I like this because it helps me to not make the same mistake again.
  • Whiteboards are great because we can erase and fix our mistakes.
  • Even when Mr. Anderson makes a mistake he encourages us to correct him, this sets a good example for the rest of us
  • Definitely. We always are learning from our mistakes.
  • It is hard when you don’ t always answer questions (gave a 2 out of 4 on this question)

6. Any last comments?

  • This was by far my favorite year of math yet!!
  • For a person who doesn’t particularly excel at math, I really enjoyed this class. It made math more likable and doable for me, especially with the standards based grading.
  • This was the most enjoyable math class I have ever taken and I am looking forward to another year of it.
  • Hopefully next year will be just as fun and i will gain more knowledge of the subject that i enjoy most which is math
  • Thank you for the year. This class was the most fun I’ve ever had in a classroom. The way you run your classroom makes it engaging and fun to learn the material, and it taught me the hard work that I will need to carry on into my senior year, college, and everything that comes after.

0B. What is working well in class? What would you like to see more of?

Grid Responses:

3 months ago

91-92 2nd Quarter Feedback

This post is mostly for myself, but maybe there is some value for you too (isn’t this the case for all blogging)?

I gave out this 2nd quarter feedback form to my Precalc honors and AP Calculus BC classes:

My comments will be in italics. The rest will be verbatim or summarized.

Similarities for Q1: What activities/methods/strategies have we done in class that have worked well for you?

  • Standing Groupwork on Whiteboards (HUGE positive response here. Loud and clear, at least for those who like it.)
  • (PreCalc H) Take Homes (they enjoy working together on tough problems. The students actively liking this is a new one for me, I think it’s because I’ve given more classtime for these takehomes).
  • Marbleslides (A set of Desmos activities) (We didn’t do many other Desmos activities this quarter, the topics didn’t warrant the need.)
  • Writing down examples in notebooks and having the classnotes in a shared google drive. (There is a significant group of students who would rather work on paper than whiteboards, I’d put it at 1 in 5 students. They find some solace in printing out my written notes from the tablet, or at least having those notes available, but I think they’d rather do everything on paper.)

Similarities for Q2: What activities/methods/strategies have we done in class that have NOT worked well for you?

  • Writing more things down in notebook (This is nicely paired from the last bullet in Q1)
  • Seated Whiteboards (They really do like the standing aspect!!)
  • Desmos Activities (This was a small amount of feedback, but they had some great points. A lot of their feedback is talking about my custom activities, so this is not a shot across the bow for Desmos, only for my custom activities. Quick take: I think I make them too dense for some students. There is a high load that they’re being asked to lift on some of these, and there are students who don’t thrive in that environment, depending on the timing of the activity and their (random) partner).
  • Not going over homework consistently (Yep. Not too much volume on it, but it’s dead on. I think their volume was turned down because I figured it out in December and have been improving on it in January). 

Similarities for Q3: What can we do to help you learn better in this class?

  • Scattershot mostly, but hand back work quicker. (Yep.)
  • Some requests to slow down. (This is a hard one. I know where we need to be to put the majority of students in a good spot for May of their senior year when they’ll take the IB or AP exam. I don’t have a great response for this. Do you?)

Excerpts from Q4: Anything else you want to say about class to me? Suggestions?

  • I enjoy the music keep that up.
  • I love whiteboards and take homes!!
  • It would be nice if reassessments could be done on other days than just Thursday or during school study halls.
  • I really like this class. It is fun and interactive. Cool music btw.
  • I enjoy doing whiteboard work and take home work in class.
  • Nothing additional other than stand is great.
  • Love the background music when we work.
  • Great learning efficiency, but sometimes comes with dreadfulness from repetition or notes.
  • Its actually quite enjoyable
  • Are there any good videos to explain some of the methods? Even if they were just linked to classroom that’d be good.


Hey teachers, if you don’t do some sort of feedback form, consider it. Some fantastic feedback, a nice mix of stuff for me to chew on, and some nice motivational stuff from what is working well too.

6 months ago

83-84 Trig Graphs and Cover Midterm

We covered the midterm exam today (40 multiple choice) in groups today. They knew their grade but not which problems that they got right/wrong. In groups of 5 problems, they tried to find the correct answers, and after a couple minutes of discussion for each group questions, I gave the answers and showed solutions for those who had questions.

Worked quite well. Lots of natural discussion and students helping students.

Next the students worked on finding trig graphs that went through given points. After fiddling with it on their whiteboards, they wrote down a set of steps to themselves in their notebooks.

Super interesting seeing the student thinking here. Will continue.

7 months ago

75-76 Power Series and Two Surprises!

We’re working on power series in Calc. Every year I love setting them up with the following series to find the convergence/divergence of:

They work on whiteboards, wander their way through the tough algebra and to the answer (converges everywhere), and are (generally) very happy to have made it through a tricky problem unscathed. Inevitibly, a student asks what the power series looks like. YES.


It all leads to an amazing conclusion. That mess of a series with alternating terms, odd polynomials, and factorials leads to …… (check the graph to see!)!


And then it also leads to my favorite desmos graph (ever??):


7 months ago

47-48 Finish up Feedback

Part 3 of the feedback conclusions (Part 1 and Part 2).
Here’s some sample responses to the prompt:

Anything else you want to say about class to me? Suggestions?

I’ll address these one by one because they’re so scattered.

I enjoy how this class doesn’t feel like hard work. When we do things on the whiteboard, it just feels more natural and not forced work. That way the pressure of knowing how to do something isnt as heavy on my shoulders.

Awesome. Chalk another point to whiteboards. Whiteboarding is really running up the score… very unsportsmanlike.

I really enjoy this class. The fact that we aren’t taking this class because we have to, rather because we want to makes it really enjoyable, and although it is challenging, makes it fun and interesting.

This is exciting to me! I wish I had more freedom with the curriculum, but after we switched over to IB and it’s two year exam (PreCalc and Calc), we’ve had less control over the PreCalculus class. I’m happy to get this kind of comment.

I really like working in groups because you’re not as embarrassed when you don’t understand something because then your classmates can help you.

Awesome, chalk another point to groupwork too.

I suggest that you go over the a quizzes after we check the answer key, because me may notice that we got something wrong, but we may not know why we got that wrong or what to do to fix the issue.

This is a good idea. I’m not sure how to build it in yet, but I’ll try some stuff out. I purposely don’t help them right after the quiz because I want them to help each other, but I bet there is a way for me to interact but not take over as the King of all Knowledge.

Maybe offer some kind of challenge problems to the class, that requires thinking beyond just what we’re learning. I think this could be enjoyable at least, and possibly beneficial.

Agreed! My use of puzzles and extensions ebbs and flows, and I’m definitely in an ebb cycle right now. Might be good to keep them on their mental toes and work on some puzzles before the holiday break.

More individual explaining would be helpful to some students because working with peers doesn’t have the same efficiency sometimes.

This is an interesting comment. I wonder if efficiency == speed in terms of learning… My guess is no, at least with challenging topics.

I really like the colored notes that are accessible on the classroom and google drive. Very helpful for review.

I need to blog about my workflow for notes and sharing the class notes. Basically I’m writing worked examples and notes on an iPad pro (with an apple pencil), and exporting a pdf of the notes to a shared google drive folder. Love it.

Maybe review games? Class challenges? Whatever team answers the question correctly first gets a point?

This is an interesting comment. Five years ago I did lots of review games and games in general. But I think whiteboarding has replaced this kind of activity for me. Part of it is my guess at the implied penalty of speed on many student’s learning. Some students just do not work well with speed as a component. Competition can also be a deterrent to learning for some students. It wouldn’t have been for me as a student, but as I teach more, I’m getting to know the students a bit better (as learners at least).

make it simpler sometimes

Yea. About that. I suppose I can work on this a teacher, but the material we are learning isn’t simple, so I’m not sure how I could effectively make it much simpler to learn.

Subset of Nice Comments That I’ll Make No Comments On Because I’m Embarrassed

I enjoy how this class doesn’t feel like hard work. When we do things on the whiteboard, it just feels more natural and not forced work. That way the pressure of knowing how to do something isnt as heavy on my shoulders.

I really enjoy this class. The fact that we aren’t taking this class because we have to, rather because we want to makes it really enjoyable, and although it is challenging, makes it fun and interesting.

My view of math has changed and I no longer hate it.

You are a wonderful teacher and make math seem fun.

9 months ago

45-46 1st Quarter Feedback Continued

Continuation of the 1st Quarter Feedback.

What can we do to help you learn better in this class?

Do more practice problems and study what we are going to be tested on the class before

More worksheets? Working primarily on whiteboards doesn’t help all that much because it get’s wiped away so you can’t go back and look at it

I feel like sometimes we don go over the homework even though I know it isn’t mandatory.

I would like to have a little more time so I can copy more example problems from whiteboards into my notebook so I can look back at them to study.

I would like to spend more time going over homework questions as a class that were difficult. I would also like to put more practice problems into our notebooks.

I’m in between if I like how you do activities on different topics more loosely or not. I enjoy some structure. Like if you just said, “we are working on standard #__” before we started an activity. That helps it solidify in my brain.

DO more practice problems and explain the notes more clearly.

Maybe going through the practice problems a bit slower, or at least leaving up the answers so that those that do not understand well enough to move on can focus on one thing at a time.

I think I am learning well in this class. It helps me to have more problems after completing tasks in class, and these are sometimes provided. Even without these, I believe this class is working very well for me.

Ok, so the feedback on the not covering the homework rings loud in my ears, because I’ve had that feeling for a couple of weeks now. I’m going to be more intentional about what homework is assigned and how we cover it in the beginning of class. I’ve let this particular rope slip out of my hands a bit, and I (and the students) want it tightened up a bit. Check.
Also the feedback for giving more structure to what topic we’re covering and why is important and I’ll do a better job of being consistent with that task. These students wow me with their self knowledge on what they think works best for them. We don’t always agree, but I love that we both have opinions and I can address at least some of their needs by modifying how I do things in class.

Here’s a word cloud for feedback on the following question:

Grading System Feedback. Got any?


9 months ago

43-44 1st Quarter Feedback

At the end of most quarters, I ask students to fill out an anonymous feedback form about what is working and what is not in our class. I use these feedback forms for many reasons, but most directly so that I can modify and tweak my instruction based on their ideas. Here is a word cloud and some selected quotes from the following question:

What activities/methods/strategies have we done in class that have worked well for you?


Working on the white board, usually standing up helps me a lot. Another thing that helps me do better in class is having A quizzes because i can reflect on them before we take the B quiz and i am more confident in the material

I like doing math in notebooks for example but then using the white boards for further practice. Also the online questionnaires are very helpful and interactive.

(I think the student’s “online questionnaires” comment is referring to the Desmos Activities.)

I really like when we use the standing white boards because I like the fact that we have a ton of space so I can see all of my work and erase little mistakes without the annoying marks that an eraser leaves on paper. Also I like it because it gives us the opportunity to move around and work with other people outside of our seated groups and I think standing helps me think better.

Whiteboard work is really beneficial to me. It allows us to work together on problems and work without it being permanent, allowing us to make mistakes. I also enjoy the Desmos activities.

I liked using Desmos and working off of white boards. I also like changing groups every two weeks.

Reassessing works well with me. Desmos is a great website. Standing up in class works very well

… So the loudest pings were: whiteboards (loud and clear!), group work, the use of feedback quizzes before a “B” (graded) quiz, and Desmos Activites.

Now some feedback on the following question:

What activities/methods/strategies have we done in class that have NOT worked well for you?


I find that taking notes in my own notebook rarely helps me, and so I don’t usually record things here. Since personal notes are not required, this isn’t much of an issue, but I learn much more efficiently by actively doing problems.

seated whiteboards and I don’t like that there’s no mandatory homework to help me

The small amount of homework doesn’t push me to review what we’ve learned in class and leaves me more lost during standards and take homes. I don’t necessarily mean give large amount of home but 3-5 questions when take homes aren’t assigned would be helpful.

It is sometimes hard to study for our tests because most of our practice problems are done on the boards.

“The Desmos activities are a little too quickly sped over, it would be better to either go over more or just not do them.
Puzzles need an appearance.”

Sometimes it’s hard to do the seated whiteboards when the work takes up a lot of space because depending on who you are sitting with that week some people like myself prefer to write everything out individually and you can run out of room so maybe to fix that we could always have the option to stand if our group decides that that would work better for the problem that we are trying to solve.

Sometimes the online desmos do not work well for me. If its at the beginning of the new topic and I am still not grasping the concepts I am sometimes lost (doing more work with peers may be more helpful for me).

I feel rushed when doing group activities if somebody in my group understnads it better. This is just dependent on the person. Like when asking for help, they just quickly explain instead of helping me really understand how to do it.

I tend to remember things through watching HOW something is done then learning it and then examples. Following instructions to arrive at an answer is more my thing. Although, I am adjusting to the figuring things out on my own. It is just taking time.

I like using whiteboards but I really like having example problems in my notebook so that I can look back to them to help me on homework and to study.

Desmos can be really hard at some points, and really easy at others, I haven’t really found an in-between.

The take home tests haven’t really helped me all that much

So it was a bit more scattered. Some nice notes from the students about the lack of permanency of the whiteboards. I’ll partly address this concern by encouraging them to print out the class notes for the day (they have all the worked examples that I did on the tablet in a pdf in a shared google drive folder). Another small set of concerns on the Desmos Activities, and I think I can address those concerns by administrating the activities better, and making better activities in the first place. Some group dynamic issues of a group moving too fast (or too slow). This is harder to address as a whole class, but I’ll keep my eye out for it more as I go around the room and make sure everyone is on the same page.

I strongly encourage you to give a similar feedback to your students. Some really important stuff gets shared by the students. I love it.

9 months ago

27-28 First Problem Set

This is the PreCalculus H class working together on their problem set. I really value our use of problems sets in class. They are more challenging problems that require more time to process, and require working with other students. The anonymous student feedback at the end of the year continually mentions how much the students come to value these assessments.

To set the class up for success, I gave them 15 min at the end of a block to work together on the problem set. They can choose to work however they’d like. My only rule? No writing on paper. They can work together on whiteboards and then take pictures if they’d like to record the work done. This rule worked as anticipated, they naturally broke into groups and had some fantastic discussions.

2016-10-21_14h23_42 2016-10-21_14h23_50 2016-10-21_14h23_58 2016-10-21_14h24_09

10 months ago