Wednesday - October 29, 1997
Today was my "teacher as a sage" day. In three of my five classes, I used
my position as ultimate authority and purveyor of all knowledge to tell
the students exactly what was what. No cooperative learning; no interactive
learning; no "getting the kids involved". Just plain "this is the way
things are, period!"
And as much as I hate to say it, it seems like it may have worked to
some degree. sigh I really don't like even saying that. I believe
that people learn best when they get actively involved in the material. If
you just sit there and try to absorb something, the retention is much less
than if you participated in the learning.
But there were too many students in 5th hour Algebra I and both
Geometry classes that just weren't taking on the responsibility of their
own grades and their own learning. Rather then pressing on (and flunking
those slackers), I decided that I needed to catch them up, also. So that's
what I did.
In Algebra I, 5th hour was still having problems translating English to
math. So I did six problems on the board in such infinite detail that it
took me 45 minutes. I did them all without skipping any steps while
explaining each step. I then made sure that the majority (at least) of the
class (plus a few "key" students) understood exactly what I did. Only
then did I move on to the next step. It appears that it worked. By the
sixth problem, I was getting much more involvement in the problems -- even
from the "clueless" people of yesterday! Since they had been behaving so
well the past couple of days, I felt that I could try to put them in
groups. The last 15 minutes of class, then, was all group work. They
handled it very well. All in all, a great day for that class!
The two Geometry classes were similar. I've noticed (as well as
Maureen) that there are quite a few kids in both classes that just aren't
getting it. The way the class is structured forces the kids to take
responsibility for their own learning. Those kids that don't want to,
though, were quickly falling behind. So today I went over two of the
investigations at the front of the class. I showed them, step by step,
how to work through them. At every step, I made sure that everybody
got it. Like 5th hour, it seemed to work. Sure, there were a few kids
that have been doing the work and paying attention and trying in the
class and it shows -- they, without exception, had already done the
investigations correctly before. So they basically just sat there.
Maureen and I decided that we're probably going to do that a few more
times, later. It totally defeats the purpose of inductive, cooperative
learning... but it also keeps the relatively intelligent but lazy students
from flunking out.
My other two classes were fairly standard. We were still doing word
problems in Algebra II, so I had them split up into groups to work on them.
I just circulated the room helping out when necessary. I'm not going to
kid myself that they are now pros at the material... but at least they
got that homework done correctly!
4th hour Algebra I finished up with the word problems section today.
I had them work out all the problems on the board without their notes.
Their was a few mistakes, but all in all, they got them right. The
problems were rarely translation mistakes, too. By and large, they made
careless computational mistakes.
All in all, a good day!