Coherence, Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus

I’m in love with Pre-Calculus.  Can you believe it?!?!?

We are studying Trigonometry right now and its wonderful!  Sort of.  I should clarify… the math itself is wonderful, the *opportunities students are getting to think and connect are wonderful… but the product my students are producing is somewhat less than wonderful.

Actually its really bad.

Its not their fault.  For so many reasons they have been setup to “not succeed” in this unit, my lack of experience and extremely unrealistic expectations being just a few.  So, I’ve scaled back my expectations of how much content I could reasonably expect them to master.  The biggest omission from this unit will be transformations of the six basic trig functions.  I’m bummed about this because I really enjoy this topic and all of the applications thereof, but as my students would all tell you, we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.

So why am I so excited?  Why do I think things are wonderful?

That’s pretty simple actually.  I’m excited and things ARE wonderful because my students are going to get the opportunity to learn and explain all of the connections inherent in the trig topics we have “covered” thus far.  They will be doing a project in lieu of a written end-of-unit assessment (which we typically do).

I’m afraid that if I don’t put on the brakes now and make them look for, see and explain these connections then I will be contributing to my biggest fear.  The fear that Pre-Calculus will be allowed to continue on as the undefinable mess that it has become in my building.

So, we will see how this goes.  I’m pretty nervous about having the time to grade this thing, but I cannot imagine just forging ahead considering the data I’ve collected on how much they can do & how little they understand.

I’m excited.


*I’ve been using University of Washington’s published Pre-Calculus curriculum as much as possible in this unit.  In general, its amazing, with the Circular motion and functions units being my favorite.