The Pre-Algebra students have been struggling with ratios of similar figures so today we did direct instruction. I had them open the three resources that we've been working with and I jumped back and forth doing different examples. I color-coded them and the students followed along. They weren't excited, but they were interested and paying attention.
The students in Math 7 are struggling deeply with application.
I took a lesson from Robert Kaplinsky and asked them to work in groups.
"With the recipe and the given ingredients, how many biscuits can I make?"
In 20 minutes, not a single group finished and very few even made headway. I made sure to tell them that they didn't need to solve it any special way, but rather a way that made sense to them and that they could explain.
Several of the groups had trouble getting started. Several had trouble making sense of the problem. Several had difficulty figuring out which operation I wanted them to use.
A few had some pretty great ideas on how to work this problem, but were unable to complete it in a reasonable period of time.
After school, I was speaking to another teacher about this issue and he had an interesting observation.
"Our generation just wanted to explore and we were forced into rote memorization. We want these kids to explore and they want rote memorization."
I'm not sure that I agree with this as my students are explorers of their interests. The trick is figuring out how to get them interested in my content.