The other day I was working on substitution with my students and I wanted them to try three problems that were similar to what we had been working on, but one had no solution, one had infinite solutions, and one had one solution. They had seen these ideas when solving graphically and numerically, but this was the first time with substitution.
Thinking back at the end of the day, I realized that although I had taught the same lesson three times, I had made slight adjustments each period. I thought it was interesting, so I wanted to summarize it here.
In my 4th period, my first Algebra 1 class of the day, I only have 14 students and generally 2-3 of them are absent. So I split the students into 3 groups and had each group focus on one question. Then after 5 minutes, I had each group share out with the class. I think it might have been a little better if I had made the groups jigsaw to share at the end, but I guess I'll save that idea for next time.
In 5th period there are 22 students. Some of the students are very quick learners, others are slow learners, and others are "I don't want to learn" learners. So I gave them some time to work independently or in partners on the three problems, then I went over each one with the class.
In 6th period there are 18 students who are generally slow learners and easily distracted. They are all capable, but not very many of them are used to seeing success in the classroom. I decided for some reason (this was not pre-planned) to get three students to each be a "professional" on one of the problems. I focused my attention getting them on the right track, and then encouraged the other students to ask them for help. After 10 minutes or so, the three students presented their solutions to the class.
I can't say that I preferred one method over the other, but I'm going to side note on one of my classes now...
I have struggled a lot to keep the students focused on learning this semester, but this past week was the best yet. The day about included.
I had begun to realize these students are all very dependent on me as the source of information, processes, and answers. A few of them like to work together, but they tend to get off task and lead each other astray when problem solving. I need to get them to think, problem solve, discuss, justify, share, and ask questions.
I think in order for them to do this they need more of an opportunity to be in charge, so I am going to continue to try to provide that for them little bits at a time. Including by having students present the solutions to bellwork...why did I never think of this before? That was a student-suggested thing we tried this week that worked really well. I think we will continue with it this week...
-Kathryn