WeBWorK Consultants

Q: are we ready for high school

Q: are we ready for high school

by Dick Lane -
Number of replies: 1
I am considering presenting an intro (about 50 minutes) to WeBWorK during my state's annual gathering of K-12 teachers in October.  Is it premature to consider use of WeBWorK by public middle or secondary schools (as distinguished from elite private schools)?

Among my reasons to do such a promotional talk is the fact that one of my god-daughters is in an Honors [sic] Algebra Class with regular worksheets at the level of remedial algebra which are ungraded, but the teacher allows students to compare their answers with the publisher's answer document.  BTW: if I agree to go ahead, that may not be one of my featured selling-points (these teachers get "renewal points" with $-value and the Wo{e}BeGon effect may be pervasive), but I will not recant my zeal to improve learning.

If I give such a presentation, then what do I need to consider for followup?  E.g. training session (I think YES), hosting at my server or at MAA., implied support by me, etc.

FWIW: my current impulse is to do it, emphasize use in precalculus and AP calculus courses, host my city's schools on my own server (if my chair & dean consent) but others at MAA, and expect a moderate amount of hand-holding.
In reply to Dick Lane

Re: Q: are we ready for high school

by Mike May -
My basic response is "Go for it."
I have done a couple of similar presentations, one to a local NCTM affiliate, and one to participants in our dual credit program.

Suggestions and things to think about:
1) I would start with AP calculus or general calculus. That level has the advantage of a richer set of problems in the NPL. It will also be easier to do the hand holding for a course that matches one you teach regularly.
2) Look to have teams of 2-3 teachers in a high school or district. Mutual support will reduce the hand holding needed and will make life easier for the early adopters.
3) Among the things to provide, would be access to the assignments you used for the course. Ideally, you would have at least two sets of assignments so they can see how this can be modified to taste, but they can also go with an off the shelf solution.
4) Follow up training is an absolute must. I think you also want to think about some hosting. You need to think of building a community of users. Telling high school teachers is a good thing to do. Building a local group of high school teachers who will go through the learning curve together is more likely to be successful.
5) Keep expectations reasonable. I would expect the venturesome ones will want to play a term before assigning to students. The less venturesome will want to see this work in their building before signing on. I think the first mark is to use this for routine homework without a concern for online testing or other advanced uses.
6) In the training, a dummy class where everyone can sign up both as a student and as a teacher is a good idea. Tasks for the training should start with doing a prepared assignment as a student, then with preparing an assignment on their favorite topic by selecting problems.

Mike May