Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Whiteboarding works!

Well, I had an epiphany over the weekend about using my whiteboards.  So I had it all planned out for Calc.  Today I gave them problems from each problem set (the old HW pages that we now do in class) and had them put them up on their whiteboards.  I loved all the working and  talking.  Most of the groups were up and standing at the board in order to discuss and write out their work. It's interesting when they don't use that approach.  A few groups are still tied to paper and pencil (that may take a long time to train away) without chatting much.  Eventually they put it up, but it's like they are worried about not having the correct answer to display right away. The one good thing about changing their groups frequently is that they will eventually work with others who are quick to jump up and get started.  Hopefully then it rubs off.  I definitely liked this workflow.

One idea that I had was to have them write a problem (for me to do) similar to the ones I had them work first.  The reward was that whichever group wrote a really good one, I would put it on the test.  This was the first place winner.

 Statistics students sometimes struggle in the beginning of the year with problems that require that they use "outside knowledge" from the real world.  Today was one of those days "I don't know anything about pregnancy".  I have to remind them that I'm fairly sure they know enough to reason out the answer to the matching question.  Then they "pop the question": "so you mean we are supposed to use what we know from outside of this class?".  Novel idea isn't it?  Always cracks me up.  Imagine finding out that knowledge is connected and not segmented into 6 periods per day.  Crazy that anyone should expect you to put together what you know from other experiences and classes!  It makes me challenge them when they complain "this isn't English class" because I tell them that I'm going to pick apart what they write and look for grammar and spelling and all those "other English things".  They groan and think it's preposterous.  I say "if you speak English, then I expect you to write it.  The discussion ends there.  They will take their first test this week, so they will soon see what I mean by their grades!  First test is always an eye-opener.

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