As the students enter the classroom, I have the group assignments for the day posted on the board (MP3). My classroom seating consists of long tables that can easily be moved to form the groups of 6-8 discussed in the previous lesson. I have found that when sharing ideas and approaches to a problem, groups of 6-8 students provide an intimate feel, ample perspectives, and manageable rotations for the teacher to be involved. I use much smaller groups when asking students to SOLVE a problem, but slightly larger groups are great in situations where the students are asked to share a final product.
I have my rubrics printed and ready so that I can make note of the students' preparedness in their share out. If I feel like I missed something from their presentation, or I need additional evidence of mastery, I ask the particular group follow-up questions. This can also be done on an individual level before school the following morning.
Critical Friends is a great protocol I use to model important life skills to my students and genuinely improve my practice. Since we have already run through critical friends in the mini-project*, students should be relatively familiar with the “I like” and “I wonder” process.
Now it is time to put the students in the driver's seat! As the teacher, it is important I show the students that I practice what I preach so I make it a point to occasionally run critical friends over the problems and projects that we do in class. Not only do I get valuable feedback from the students on ways to make my activity even better (especially when I run something new for the first time), but I also model to the students that I am willing to accept feedback to to improve my teaching. Countless class activities have been made better thanks to the thoughtful feedback provided by my students!
This is a great culminating piece for the activity, and it helps to improve the project for the next time. The students will always be very honest in their feedback!
*at the onset for each other’s probability game ideas