This week the students were reviewing for a big district-wide test. Despite our efforts to relate lessons to their innate curiosity or the “real world”, telling them that something “will be on the test” still seems to be the best way to focus them. I suppose it’s a commentary on how deeply the idea of working the system, rather than learning for its own sake, is embedded. Of course, I remember operating that way when I was that age, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
To review, we put each class into three groups and had them work together to solve problems related to finding and simplifying linear equations (from tables, points, and graphs). I spent most of the day working with the groups working on finding an equation from two points. Every group would start by saying (sometimes in unison) “we don’t know how to do this!”. Groups of 8-10 students are hard to keep focused, so I would work an example for them and start working my way around the group helping individually. As soon as someone had that lightbulb moment where it made sense, I’d tell them to teach the person next to them. This would usually snowball nicely, since there were now two or more teachers in the group. Despite my best efforts, I suspect the students are much better at teaching each other than I am… which is fine by me!