Reflection: Shared Expectations Introduction to Minerals - Section 5: Independent Practice


During the first 'practice' session of the year (by practice, I mean the opportunity for students to engage and practice what they've learned in the lesson through experimentation, questions, writing, or some medium of interaction with the content itself), I try to very clearly set expectations for students. These expectations mostly revolve around how students should spend the time with practice, providing rationale, and collectively thinking about strategies for what to do if students need help. 

To address the first point, I think it's important that I be very clear in what I want to see students doing during this time. I try to be as specific as possible in instructing on what I want students to do - all the way down to things like their body language and where there eyes are positioned. I feel a mistake many teachers often make during student work time is the sometimes false assumption that quiet = compliant. It's important for me to make sure that students are doing exactly what I want them to do, especially given the limited time in class each day. 

Additionally, I try to communicate those expectations clearly, but also like to engage students on exactly "why" they're practicing. I usually entertain some recent cognitive research (sorry, I'm a nerd!) on how practice helps transition newly learned ideas into long-term memory. By doing things over and over successfully, the learning process is literally taking place. I think it's important to at least communicate that basic idea to them. 

Finally, I try to establish some guidelines to have students "help themselves" during this time. Students are pretty good at coming up with solutions - checking their notes, asking a partner (if that's allowed by me), looking at a resource around the room, or sometimes even asking a designated student assistant are all some potential options. Often, some students arrive with some concept of learned helplessness - they tend to give up or immediately seek out teacher support the minute they come across something that's challenging or daunting. I try to scaffold this up for them, both in the practice itself, but mostly in the idea of building grit and working through challenges. I usually tend to start many (if not all) practice activities with the question, "What can you do if you're stuck besides asking the teacher?" While they can of course ask me for help if needed, I try to have them explore other avenues of self-help; as they grow, I want to equip them with the capacity to do be their own support structure!

  Student Practice
  Shared Expectations: Student Practice
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Introduction to Minerals

Unit 1: Rocks & Minerals
Lesson 1 of 12

Objective: SWBAT define a mineral, identify properties of minerals, and differentiate between rocks and minerals

Big Idea: This lesson serves as an introductory view into the world of minerals, specifically focusing around the idea of what a mineral is and how they're classified

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