Monday, April 25, 2011

Homing in

I am nearing the end of finishing all of the exercises. As you can see on my my map, I am orange for some review.

I am down to 11 unsolved exercises. For the 4 sets of word problems, Functions 3, and Equations of a Line I just need to buckle down and do the work. For some of the exercises, like Functions 3, this will take a while, as there are many steps to many of the problems.

On the right side of the map, the Trig section, I am going to have to either look at many hints or watch some videos. I just don't remember the trig identities or the inverse trig functions. I was never good at finding the range of a function, and I think Inverses of Functions involves some simple trick I am forgetting.

So, with 6 grinders and 4 reviews, I am left with Solving For a variable, which I will admit I haven't looked at yet.

This won't complete my journey though. I want an entirely blue map, every thing complete and up to date. This means after I finish the gauntlet at the end here, the most challenging exercies for me, I will have to refresh myself on most of the exercises and do a few long review sessions. I decided to save it all for the end because when I begin a session at Khan I tend to lose some steam after doing too much review, especially if I mess up a review exercise and have to plug away through another full set of problems.

Completing the final exercises and the review will leave me one final goal on the road towards completeness: the challenges. I knocked off the Arithmetic Challenge and the Pre-Algebra Challenge. The Algebra Challenge was lengthy, and considering the difficulty and the increased number of problems in the next two challegnes, Algebra and Trig are going to be a feat. That said, I have some vacation days coming up, so I am hoping to make a big push and be finished before I'm knee deep in May.

I should add that by completing all of these exercises I will only have primed myself for greater things. This adventure will have polished my skills, but in now way will I suddenly be some sort of mathematician. My college Shakespeare professor used to insist that studying Shakespeare was akin to doing push ups in the gym. There is not often a direct goal in mind, other than your overall health. Well, I am viewing KA as a similar self-improvement tool, and after I finish I will be out looking for more exercises. I aslo intend to poke around Khan a bit more, maybe seek some of the medals and become more than proficient in some of my troublesome exercises. Maybe I can write a book on the medatitive qualities of solving derriviatives (easy ones) for fun, and spawn a new shelf at B&N in the self-help section. "The sine and cosine of happiness."

I took some time off from Khan over the past few days. I was investigating the hullabaloo around the internet about Khan. I was excited to find some other people talking about Khan, but their reviews seemed mostly critical and agenda serving. They had much to say about other learning methods, and many incursive thoughts about Khan and the KA team's bloated chest. I find this confusing at best. Khan is new and untested, and these naysayers seem to be responding to the high-sounding language surrounding Khan and especially its introduction to a public school in Los Altos. I asked a few of them if they had used the Khan Academy, but, being new to the blog world, I am still on my way to retracing my steps to where I placed these comments to see if anyone responded back.

In my mind Khan won't replace the classroom, but it is definintely pointing in the next direction, so we need to embrace it now and march towards the future , critiquing it soundly and improviong on its draughtly areas.

One particular blogger I feel I need to mention is Mr. Frank Noschese's blog here:

Mr. Noschese has a very nice blog and I encourage everyone to check it out. From the looks of it, you may have heard of him before because I see some awards on the site. Mr. Nochese's name seemed to pop up on many of the blogs that were talking about KA. He continually derided KA, and then followed up with some information about the Modeling Instruction Paradigm. I need to be clear here. Mr. Noschese writes very well, but his structure of argument is scattered at best. I think Modeling Instruction looks great, and a new and powerful way to teach physics and other subjects. But in no way does KA take away from or prevent a school from embracing modeling. Modeling could be used in some classes, and students could use KA during other periods to refine their skills. If anything, I think that KA complements a great program like modeling and the two should be used together. But from the tone of many of Mr. Noschese's comments it seems like he is against KA as if it is leading students down a path of skill learning abscent of any vaulable problem solving skills. Well, I might say that airtight skills will free up a young mind to develop excellent problem solving skills. When addition is a snap, imagine the other fun conundrums you could take on, not having to sweat the small stuff because you mastered it already.

Anyways, as I dig deeper I am finding I have much to investigate, and I want to save a lot of that until I have completed my goals. So, I will try to back away from the larger KA discussion for now, and focus instead on completing the exercises and challenges I have left.

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