Rookie Year: Day 17 Or I Am Spartacus

Well, not me. My students.

A practice I have been using a lot in the class is having the students write their work on the board and then explain what they did to each other. I know I’m not doing right yet; not all of the students will participate and explain, those that do rush through their explanations, and almost no one will ever ask questions or speak up if they don’t understand. I’m working on it.

The joke title is because when I point to work on the board and ask “Who’s work is this?”, I for some reason will get two to three students claiming it at once. This is not a one time incident but a common occurrence whenever I run this activity. I told them they reminded me of Spartacus, but none of them got the reference. 

We are making progress on classroom discourse. I had given them all a word problem to work on in groups after having them talk (again) about what good group work looks like. I had told them I wasn’t very excited about how they had handled themselves the first time and I wanted them all to give it another shot. They did marginally better on that second round but I still didn’t get the discourse that I wanted. Anyway, the word problem. My goal with the word problem in groups was to get them using one of the standards for mathematical practice: construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

And critique they did. I had kids wildly yelling (not in anger) at each other about the problem in every block. I had one student standing at the board writing going: “No. Look y’all,”, gesturing animatedly at their work, and then explaining their thought process loudly. It was great. I loved it.

I also had students stare at the problem blankly and at me. I particularly have this problem in my early morning class, as I don’t think they are quite awake yet. I can’t get them to engage or get as excited as my other blocks. I think it is a combination of both the time and the size. They are my smallest class which I thought would be a good thing, but so far all it has done is made them not as lively. Not enough energy in the room I guess.

Friday definitely went well, which was encouraging after how bad Wednesday was. But I’m currently sick with my son’s headcold and I was starting to feel it at the end of Friday. Having to redirect students to the task was wearing me out. I hope I can recover by Monday because I don’t plan on missing any work. I’m drinking more tea than any UK Citizen could shake a stick at to combat this sore throat.



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