As the students enter the classroom, I have the opening slide of the PowerPoint pulled up. As discussed in the previous lesson, today’s class will begin with an opening workshop motivated by the students. This “motivated by the students” component is so critical! At the end of yesterday’s session, each group created a semi-formal list of concepts/questions that need to be brushed up on from the worksheet. Sending the students home with an “order of maximum effort” they are returning today with potential additions to that list. To remind the students of our previous discussion, I display a picture of what we came up with from a previous day. As the directions on the PowerPoint display, the students are to identify which concepts they really would like to see emphasized, and which concepts can now be crossed off of the list. I encourage the students to make notes right on the whiteboard, including additions, modifications, and specifics that they encountered.
This activity is inspired by an educational article that I once read at a professional development session. Although I do not remember the exact context of the quote, the idea of it was that students must first WANT to learn in order to learn. Many times, teachers (myself included) say that *insertyourparticularstudentnamehere* just doesn’t care about his or her learning. Although this is likely true, it is our job as teachers to make the students intentional about their own learning. Throwing in the towel is not good enough, no matter how frustrating it can be! Our job is NOT to “make the horse drink” - - it is to make the horse thirsty! Activities like this help keep me accountable as a teacher looking to set the tone for learning at the start of the class period. A student who writes a need on the board in front of his or her peers is MUCH more likely to take ownership over learning the concept or skill once it is presented a second time.
Now it’s time to have a go at finishing the worksheet! For #11 – end it is important to allow the students in-class work time. As the students rock and roll, I make sure to emphasize professional collaboration. There are a few tips and tricks that you can use to encourage this in your classroom:
1) Collaboration-Friendly Seating Chart: Never tried this before? Accustomed to rows? There is certainly nothing wrong with that! However, from time to time venture out of your comfort zone and put your students in a situation where they are more likely to collaborate. So many of the math practice standards involve student communication that it is important to foster an environment that is conducive to these conversations.
2) Thinking Groups: See strategies folder video narrative.
3) Easels: Have a little extra grant money to put to good use? I highly recommend looking into easels! Sometimes the front whiteboard can be intimidating to kids, not to mention it is not always the best tool to use for small groups positioned throughout the room. I have found that when I bring around the easels, the students know exactly what to do without me saying a word! You will be so surprised and impressed when the students are looking to explain a concept to each other and they step up to the easel to accomplish the task. It’s a proud moment to be a teacher, PLUS what a cool classroom culture to be a part of!
Whatever pieces of the worksheet that the students do not get done I assign for homework.