|Digital Natives with no concept of appropriate characters for Twitter handles... Also, I thought they would have been more creative with this...|
I'm working on getting my geometry students to justify their reasons when talking about triangles (or anything really). I am trying to spend a good amount of time asking them "how do you know that?" and "why?" They hate it, but they are starting to do a much better job of explaining their thought processes and justifying their answers.
We spent 40 minutes today exploring the warm-up! We had a great conversation about how to slice the shape into triangles, how many triangles you could make, how to develop a formula, why the formula works, etc. I was very proud of their work.
After much consideration about what happened on Friday, I can to a difficult decision about my pre-algebra classes. I decided to show them what my class would be like if I were NOT interested in them. Today, we had a workbook assignment that students worked on for the entire period, silently and independently. One student who refused to stop talking was removed by the principal and taken to in-school suspension.
The idea was that, if they saw what my class COULD be like, they would be more liable to appreciate what it IS like.
It backfired horribly in the most productive way ever. I was reminded that many of my students would MUCH rather work on grinding through problems than tackle anything of substance. They were able work solidly for the entire period with minimal issues, asking questions when they needed help and, in general, producing correct answers.
I have never been more disappointed in student work. I feel as though I should be happy that they worked well throughout the entire double period, mostly staying on task and completing the assignment that was set out for them, but I'm not.
I'm sad that they would rather spend 90 minutes doing rote calculation than producing something of substance. I know why this is the case. I know why they want to do worksheet after worksheet.
They are easy and they are comfortable. Even when the problems are more difficult, the process is familiar. What I thought of as a punishment (something boring) turned out to be a reward for them.
They didn't just do it grudgingly, they did it with glee and joy, having conversations across the room about how to find the answers and which strategies they used.
They were doing everything that I wanted them to do LAST week.
So I am torn. Do I continue letting them do the menial work to allow them the feeling of enjoying doing math inside of their comfort zones? Do I push them beyond that comfort, knowing full well that even though the content is more interesting, they are MUCH less likely to even attempt it?
I think this is why teachers often don't bother to develop interesting lessons. They are happen to listen to the more interesting topics, but getting them to do the work themselves is like pulling teeth. They don't want to listen to me lecture about procedural stuff, but they'll sit and do it for hours.
What are we training these kids to be? What are we training them to do?
And so I have come to a major short-coming of mine as a teacher. I don't know how to explain to them that they are putting their effort and energy into the boring stuff. I had thought that showing them what they could be doing would excite and interest them, and it does! Provided they don't have to do any work to get there.
How do I save these bright young minds from the assembly line?
It's time for some summative assessment as well. I think it will be tomorrow since I expect low attendance on Wednesday