This Year, I’m Excited to Try …

1. Dan Meyer’s 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … strategy to earn students’ attention
Getting students’ attention in order to transition from group/individual work to whole-class discussion is a classroom management problem that’s been bugging me for two years. I’ve seen and rejected several solutions to this problem because I didn’t think I could pull them off; I fear becoming a drill sergeant or a babysitter. In the meantime, I’ve been flailing my arms and raising my voice and looking ridiculous to get my students attention. Anyway, thanks Dan for the intellectual vindication; I think this solution will work for me.

2. Breedeen Pickford-Murray’s 3 question protocol for reviewing student work
I hope to use this strategy in tandem with a document camera to take myself out of answer key mode, to embrace mathematical discussion, to encourage multiple solution strategies, and to draw attention to how we show our work. I might add a question of my own, such as “Did anyone make an interesting mistake?” to encourage learning from mistakes. Overall, I hope to cultivate more student-to-student conversations about mathematics this year.

3. Rough Draft Deadlines for Problem Sets
At the beginning of the summer, two of my colleagues and I had coffee and talked summer goals. We had already decided to switch to Problem Sets (PSETs) in lieu of traditional homework, but there were lingering problems:

  • We’re not great at enforcing deadlines.
  • Students don’t turn in their problem sets because they fear being wrong.
  • When students make mistakes, it’s permanent and we move on.

Our solution: each problem set has a rough draft deadline, at which point students have to turn in SOMETHING, which we will grade. Students can then revise their work and be regraded as if it were new. This approach encourages students to try and fail and learn from their mistakes, which in my opinion is both “real world” and mathematically authentic. I hope it has the same effect on my homework that SBG did last year on my quizzes.

Other things I’m excited to try: SBG year 2 and witnessing other people try it, PSETs all year long, open-honors in precalculus, working with all our new teachers, working with a blind student, making the objective my last slide (and making slides in general), and of course, blogging (I’m hoping for about one post a week).

Summer is over. Bring it on.

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