I get a lot of questions about the practical details of running pre-assessments and setting up multiple groups in a classroom. I brainstormed a big ol’ list of tips I learned from my own experiments and those of my colleagues.
What happens when a student never gets called over to work with the teacher?
When you’re up speaking in front of a group, it’s so easy to assume that they’re hanging on your every word. The reality is we are incapable of hearing as fast as people speak. We can’t hear everything someone says, let alone remember, let alone understand.
Now, a typical classroom would woosh onto a new topic after this half hour of “fun.” But. we’re building a classroom culture that’s comfortable with fuzzy problems. It is now, after failures, that students can learn the most, so let’s break down their results…
You know you’re supposed to put your cart into a designated area in the parking lot, but you’d rather not take the effort since you’re in a hurry. And after all, one cart doesn’t make a difference! However, if we all take this mindset, soon the parking lot is impossible to park in, carts are slamming into cars, and businesses are raising prices to pay for all of the broken carts.
We’re supposed to rank fifteen items according to usefulness if we were stranded on the light-side of the moon. The items range from pistols to powdered milk. Some seem useful, but are actually worthless while others seem unnecessary on earth, but are actually vital when stuck on the moon. However, the structure of the activity as a website is not optimal. Let’s improve this and make it an awesome problem–solving exercise for our class.
Many wrote in to add that showing work is important as a way of communicating to an audience. But, whether we realize it or not, the only audience many students are performing for is a test scanner. So, teachers, let’s put our money where our mouths are and give them a chance to experience that showing steps is vital to communication. And give them this chance daily!
A novice might simply ask students to “discuss the story we read” and expect enlightenment. They are gifted after all! However, structure is an essential element to all learning. When planning for group work, you must plan the experience in a way that leads students to success and proactively combats personality problems.
I’m beginning to teach the dreaded geometry unit featuring complementary, supplementary, adjacent, and vertical angles. Historically a confusing topic, this year is going to be different. I’m going to use a new tactic: cooperative reasoning with a set of “clues.”
After students complete a district test, many teachers receive access to data-rich spreadsheets detailing student performance across standards. The problem is, it takes a bit of work to group students based on these standards. Since in a former life I was a computer programmer, I created a utility to automatically group students from these spreadsheets: The Student Grouper.