Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking responsibility for learning is hard.


I fear that some tough lessons are going to have to be learned in Calc by several of my students.  They are so used to being spoon-fed and having to take some ownership for the first time is a challenge.  Prior to now they may have experienced little challenge as they were told what to memorize for a test and given review sheets that looked just like the test, but with different numbers.  Now there is a lot of thought required, AFTER they read the question and figure out what it is asking.  This is a new expectation entirely, and they struggle with it. 

Today was a quiz on derivatives (that we have been working on for a week).  I decided to try something new. There were only a few questions, but one of the questions expected them to find the slope of the tangent using the traditional formula, but I made it DEFINITELY a higher order thinking problem.  We had done a somewhat similar one over a week ago in class (in their groups), so I decided to push them a little further.  Here is the question: 

I expected they would struggle comprehending the question, so after a specified time with the entire quiz, I made them stop and do this:  take out a blue or black pen, pass the papers one turn clockwise.  Now read the question (above) and make comments about the solution on the paper.  Is the set up appropriate? Is there some direction you could lead them to get "unstuck"? Is there something there that you are wondering "where did THAT come from"?.  But put on your teacher hat and write something on that paper.  Then I had them pass again, and one more time until their own paper was back on their desk.  Then I gave them 2 mins to "fix it" or "finish it" with the help of the comments.  As I perused through the papers, I can say I was a little disappointed in the outcome.  We will have to discuss this problem tomorrow. 

As they worked on problems for the remainder of class, I had a "chat" with a few who seem to do a lot of watching.  I stated that "if you only watch, you will NOT know how to do the problems. This  is your chance to get help and ask questions.  It's difficult to discern reticence from one being "lost" when they don't participate fully.  I guess time will tell, and I will have to find ways to make them participate.  I do make them change authors on their whiteboards, but with some of them, it's like pulling teeth.

More for me to contemplate.


Similar problem in Stats today.  They had video notes last night explaining the concepts we were talking about today, and yet I found several blank papers.  I did very well in containing myself.  Tomorrow might not go so well.  The ideas of how to "teach them a lesson about making sure HW is done" are churning in my head.  I have a few.

We were working on calculating a line of best fit and we did it using StatKey and their graphing calculator.  They have to do some practice using their height and shoe size data they generated in class on Friday.  I pooled both classes of data together to give them more to work with.  Tomorrow, we will use another website to play around with the LSRL.  And they had better have homework done!!

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