Since tomorrow is the chapter test in all of my classes, today was test review day. In geometry, I gave them an overly difficult version of the test and had them work in groups. It was interesting to watch the various groups struggle and how they coped with difficulty. One of the groups spent several minutes in deep discussion about a question before they came up all together to ask me about it.
Most of the other groups sent representatives up with a group question, leaving the rest back to work on different problems. One group never asked anything and by the end of the class had separated their desks and wouldn't look at each other. I was planning to assign seats tomorrow based on the information I gathered about who they do and don't want to sit with, but I think I may let them choose their own tomorrow to see if that group will still sit together. Each member said that they couldn't work well with the others, but they sat together anyway.
I am trying to teach them how to ask better questions. I can't stand when confused students say "I don't get it!" That may be true, but I need something more specific.
+cheesemonkeysf SF has posted that she says "That's a great question!" and then doesn't answer it. After a little while, the students begin asking "was that a good question?" I LOVE this idea! I really need to do more of that, encouraging them to consider what they ask before they do. I usually respond with things like "you tell me" and "what do you think?"
In pre-algebra, I has students take turns putting the answers and work on the board, then explaining how they got what they did. Several times, I found myself explaining what they had done after they put it up. Instead, I should be asking OTHER students to explain their work. The less I talk, the more they learn.
They can teach each other much better than I can, but I can provide their discussions with guidance and direction.
When I came into my class this morning I found this written on my board from yesterday:
I love how the conversation happened entirely on the board and with corrections added! If this can be harnessed, it can be used for a force of good, much the way my ability to make amazing scrambled eggs must never be used for nefarious purposes.
That way lies madness!