As the students enter the classroom, I already have the Entry Activity Worksheet waiting for them on their desks. Once the bell rings, I begin the countdown timer on the board that is set for 10 minutes. I don’t offer the students a lot of explanation because the countdown timer emphasizes to them the importance of getting right down to business. (Sometimes it is nice to mix up the entry activities with your kids, and a countdown timer speaks volumes!) While the students work, I take time to pass back the homework assignment that they worked on while in the midst of their “Playin’ Against All Odds” project.
Being engaged in mathematical discussions and critiquing the reasoning of others (MP3) is a math practice standard that is best implemented under a wide variety of classroom conditions. This is because the students need to become accustomed to collaborating in both formal and informal settings - and it is what the working world will require from them. In the math classroom, you will find that these conversations take on a slightly different tone and purpose when the students are under a time crunch. This is a great experience for them, and something work talking them through after they have experienced it. What frustrations did they have? How did their collaboration look different? Were they still able to effectively collaborate to finish the task?
For the last section of this lesson, I am leaving myself (and you!) a little “wiggle” room. If you are reading this lesson, chances are that you are involved in education. And if you are involved in education, chances are that you demonstrate a great deal of flexibility in your planning each day! Occasionally, I will craft a lesson with this in mind.
Sometimes, as a teacher, I get so caught up in creative lesson planning that I lose touch with what my students are communicating back to me. Once or twice each semester, I make it a personal goal to hone in on the feedback student give me and use it to tailor make a later section of my class period. This is a very difficult challenge for me, because I like to roll forward with my own script and bypass what the students are messaging. This is not a healthy trend for a classroom culture! I like to be sure that the students feel they have the steering wheel, and the lesson is in their hands.
Now, by no means am I saying roll forward without a game plan. Each class is unique, and requires a different set of preparation and scaffolding. However, I encourage you to use homework data to predict questions the students will have after the discussion. The important thing is being honest with yourself and recognize that it sometimes requires a flexibility and listening to be a teacher. I am granting myself that luxury at the end of this lesson, rather than being surprised by it.
If the class period should finish up a little early, an EXCELLENT discussion could be had around the importance using of explicit language (question #5 of the Entry Activity)! Ask the students if they can think of any examples, you will be surprised by the results!