Tuesday, January 20, 2009

a new approach?

Following my review of Gran Torino last week (and also posted with some edits on Facebook) some people agreed and some didn't, but it's all good. Still a great movie in my opinion. I hope you all liked it if you saw it, even if it didn't live up to my hype!

This semester out at Fresno State again for Turning Points Academy, I'm going to try something new. Due to lots of schedule changes and various other events this past week and a half, I've only taught two days! But starting again tomorrow, here's what I'm doing:

A normal instructional week looks like this for me:
Days 1-4:
10-15 minutes: Warm up, review homework
30 minutes: instructional time
10 minute: wrap up/practice

Day 5
Quiz (usually part homework-quiz where kids have to copy their work from the weeks' homework, as well as original problems to solve.)

But what I'm proposing is this:
Days, 1, 3:
Two lessons worth of material presented in one fell swoop. Homework the first night is simply to copy all of the homework down so that they can work on it in class the next day. Highly encouraged to try especially some of the later problems to know WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK in class the next day.

Days 2,4: Questions from copying the homework down are asked, and students given rest of the period to ask questions of each other, ask me questions, etc. Homework is to finish whatever didn't get done in class.

Day 5: Individual quiz after some review of the previous day's homework.

Because the days will cover more territory and hopefully be able to be all deep stuff, I should be able to cover the same amount of material. Last week it seemed to work exceptionally well.

For example, tomorrow and the day after I would be going over both polynomial division and synthetic division. Pretty similar topics, each better suited to cetain situations than others. By doing it this way, students can see the relationship between both topics and also the differences. Highlighting similarities and differences - and thus giving students the chance to choose for themselves - has been shown to be one of the most effective methods of teaching for retention;. Morover, giving more time in class for discussion and practice should be a great way to increase homework completion and thus comprehension. Also, the "every other day" approach is more like a college class, since we are on a college campus and everything...

- Cheating. While it should be easier to catch cheaters as their homework will be done in class, that's also where the chance for cheating happens... Hopefully the threat of a quiz will keep them accountable and their grades will suffer if they don't do the work. If they aren't working on anything in class (ie, they didn't do the first night's homework) it will be obvious.

- Crammed material: the trick will be to think of how not to cram too much lecture into the opening days. The goal overall is BETTER UNDERSTANDING, after all...

I'll try it for a month; giving myself time to adapt and the students to adjust as well. Then if I have to go back to how I was doing it I will have time to do so.



mathnerd said...

Sounds like it could work. Really no matter which format there is room for cheating. Kids will do that. But this way they have a better chance to work in class and get the needed help. Hope it keeps going well.

Brandon said...

so far i think so good. one thing for sure is that probably 95% of the students seem to be working on homework in class the second day... as they're supposed to! It certainly FEELS a lot better!

but i've only done two (well, four) lessons of it so far... will keep it up for a while and see how test scores/quizzes go... thanks!