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Lesson

Clip 2/13: Graphing Quadratics Lesson - Part 2

Overview

With the first group, I start by asking them: What is it that we're doing here? What are we talking about? Are we talking about the Y intercept or the X intercept? How do we get started?

Teacher Commentary

As they move into their groups, no one's supposed to be on the same problem at the same time. They're supposed to be either physically or metaphorically working in the middle. Then if they call me over for a question, it should be a team question. At times I need to interrupt a kid several times to give another student a chance to explain. That is something I'm looking for when I'm circulating around: who's likely to be quiet that needs some invitation or the state of conversation when I'm there.

With this group, I'm trying to get them to ask me questions. Then I'm trying to think of what questions I can ask back that might model for them how they could have perceived this process themselves based on wherever they were. Inherent to that is quickly trying to assess what's smart about the work or the thinking that I see in front of me right now, and asking, "What can I leverage from that they can feel confident about?" so that the fact that they have this question doesn't overshadow what they've done that's positive.

Essentially I'm looking for that glimmer of "Oh" from enough people in the group and sometimes that's one and sometimes it's all four, it depends on who it is and what the concept is that will let you lead.

This is related to something I learned from Phil Tucher, who's the coach in the clips. Years ago when we both talked together he talked about trying to frame a learning agenda for a student. At the time, he was referring to a kid who was desperate, who was starting to fear that he might not be able to learn. What's the one piece of learning that I can ask that kid to focus on, from which achievement and confidence can snowball? It's also true for kids who are just fine; the kids who are superficially really successful are also entitled to a learning agenda. What's the one thing that I want them to attend to that they might gain inspiration from with other students?

I try to never ask questions to which I already know the answer. Those are all the interesting questions, those are all the places where I get to do something with student responses that is affirming, or was a follow-up of some sort, or a call for different ways of thinking.