Clip 3/19: Introduction - Part B
Students complete two introductory problems as they get settled into class and focus on mathematics for the day. As students work primarily individually, the teacher has an opportunity to circulate and support individual students by confirming that they are on the right track and asking questions to probe their thinking. Students present solutions and share reasoning as they go over one of the problems.
In this companion class to Algebra, I use the opportunity to interact with individuals as they work to reinforce what they are doing well to build their confidence as well as to allow them to ask questions that they may not reach out to ask for help with on their own. I am constantly struck by how often students seem hesitant to progress in a problem without getting confirmation that they are off to a good start. Because of this, I try to help students recognize when they have made a decision about how to do a problem, and to ask questions to elicit their thinking so that they recognize what they know and are able to take ownership of their solution process and their answers, rather than later suggesting that they followed a successful path because they “guessed.” I am constantly challenged to do this in ways that build their independence. When they need help in order to move forward, I work to ask questions that help students make decisions without giving too much guidance. Having students present is a way for different students to contribute to the solution and to practice justifying their steps. It also serves to help students recognize that they are each developing their understanding about different concepts, and to recognize that they are not alone in having questions or being unsure of what to do. It furthers my goal of building a class culture where students ask questions when they need support and persist when faced with a challenge.
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