Ken Morse teaches Algebra and Geometry courses in the Blind High School at FSDB. If enough students are interested, he teaches Pre-Calculus courses. He integrates the latest technology in his instruction and uses Socratic questioning to ensure students understand the content. Peers check each other’s work; after a student gives an answer, Morse asks the class, “Is she right?”
After school hours during the first semester, Morse tutored students to provide extra help in passing the Algebra I End of Course (EOC) exam. All of his students passed! (Results for the second semester are pending)
How long have you been teaching at FSDB?
I have been at FSDB as a Blind High School math teacher for 25 years.
What was your pathway to working here?
I was teaching in a temporary position at St. Augustine High School when the math teacher at the Blind High School at FSDB resigned, and the Assistant Principal contacted me. He requested that I apply for the open position. Here I am 25 years later.
What has been the easiest and hardest content to teach over the years?
The easiest content to teach was Consumer Math, back when it was part of the high school curriculum. The students could really see a use for it, so they made a solid effort to understand it. The hardest content to teach over the years was using trigonometric identities to simplify trigonometry expressions in Pre-Calculus courses. Students do struggle with figuring out which identity to use.
Can you explain the new EOC tutoring to help kids pass the exam?
During the first half of the Algebra End of Course (EOC) tutoring program, the students and I worked on the mechanical part of Algebra (factoring, solving, graphing linear and quadratic functions). During the second half of the tutoring, we concentrated on application problems (Mathematics Formative Assessment System) to prepare them for the kind of problems they would encounter on the EOC exam.
Is high school math getting harder? What can parents do to prep their children?
High school math has been getting more difficult for several years now. The state curriculum guides have been getting more robust. Concepts that were part of the Pre-Calculus course are now taught in Algebra 2. Concepts that were part of the Algebra 2 curriculum are now part of Geometry and Algebra 1. The EOC tests include a greater portion of application problems than previously. If a parent wants their child to succeed in these courses, they need to make sure that they have mastery of their basic numeration skills and arithmetic skills. Students need to be able to do operations from memory on integers, fractions, decimals, and rational numbers. Doing so makes understanding Algebra and Geometry a whole lot easier if the student is not struggling with arithmetic.
What do you enjoy most about teaching high school mathematics?
I really enjoy the moment when a student comprehends the mathematical concept. The moment when I have led them to the self-discovery of an idea. You can feel it in their voice when they say “Oh, I get that!” That moment makes all of the time spent getting to that point worthwhile.
By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.