Timing and Planning For Time

January 29th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the most frustrating things for me this year is having to deal with a 20 minute loss of time in my Math class. I’ve had to go from 90 minutes to 70. The difficult part is I know for some people 70 minutes would be a luxury as there are teachers who only teach 45 minutes or so. So I hate to complain but I’ve been battling all year to readjust my timing on everything to make everything fit. Bellwork, homework check/review, lesson, practice, exit slip – they don’t all fit in everyday and it is frustrating.

I’ve even caught myself cutting off some students questions towards the end of class cause I have to finish the lesson so students know how to do their homework. Teaching a lesson up until the bell and not giving students time to start the work in class is really frustrating for me. Plenty of students do not have parents at home to help them or if they do I often get the “I’m not good enough at math to help them” line.

The saddest part so far is that I simply don’t have answers. I try to cut things, move fast here and slow down there, and I still feel like I am fumbling through. Flexibility is an important characteristic of a teacher, but it is definitely had to change an internal clock that has chimed regularly for the past 4 years.

My hope is by the end of this year I will have tried enough variations to figure out a system that will work for next year… here’s hoping.

Using an Activity To Teach

January 14th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

I recently created a real-world lesson about taking off consecutive percents vs. taking off the same discount in one step (20% then 20% again vs. 40% off the original price). I often call this stacking percents. Rather than go through a normal lesson day of notes, examples and practice and then do this activity the next day – I decided to try using this lesson to teach students about the difference. The results were mixed but positive overall.

The big point of the lesson is trying to get students to see that taking the discount off in two steps will get a different result compared to taking it off in one step. This lesson had students take a more inquiry based approach (which I will be writing on plenty in the future) as most students assumed that the discounts would result in the same price.

Doing it through the activity allowed them to find out which one saved more and conjecture about why it saved more. This worked out really well for my moderate to advanced students and not quite as well for my low students. This is partially my fault as my low students were struggling to find the percent discounts as I did not properly scaffold this skill for them – definitely something I will change in the future. I like this method of approach for students that have a firm grasp of content as it allows them to explore the learning possibilities themselves. I will continue to experiment with this approach and see what role it can take in an every-day class environment.