Monday, April 15, 2013

You be the teacher (part 2)

Last week I did this and got to sit back and be a student while my kids taught the class. 

It. was. awesome.

My biggest observation was that I hate sitting at the student desks.  I hate sitting with my feet on the ground and at home I'm usually sitting on a couch or somewhere comfortable.  Having to attempt to sit up (fairly) straight with my feet on the ground was not pleasant for me.  I probably looked antsy the way I kept shifting trying to get comfortable.  On Friday I complained to a girl about it and she showed me how to hook my feet up onto one of the bars of the desk and that made things a little better.  I have decided that my ideal classroom would consist of couches.

So aside from the seating issue, there were tons of great things that went on.  As I expected, the first couple days were a little shaky but the lessons definitely got better each day.  As other kids were teaching I heard kids talking with their groups about ideas and things they needed to do when they taught.

I had a couple kids ask me out loud during a rough lesson if I was going to be reteaching it.  I didn't like this and I thought it was incredibly rude.  I said no.  The real answer was yes, but I didn't want them to rely on the fact that I would reteach the topic.  I told them that if they were unsure on anything they could go watch the same tutorials on the livebinder that the other kids watched.  This actually calmed them down significantly.

I have to say though that the kids had absolutely no shame in calling each other out for things.  As I mentioned before, they are a very close knit group of kids and most of them are very outgoing.  They had no problem saying that they were moving too fast or that they were confused and boy did they jump all over it when one kid wrote a wrong number.  The kids teaching had no problem telling the class to be quiet or get off instagram.  There were only like two times that I stepped in to help a kid and it was only when I saw them completely lost and getting angry.  Even then I just went over and knelt down next to the kid to help quietly. 

Four days in (after zero exponents, negative exponents, and multiplication) some kids went on a trip and I didn't want to move on so we spent the day just doing practice on the dry erase boards.  I think that this helped and was actually even the perfect place for this break.  It was good for them to practice the skills mixed together and it also let me reteach some of the topics without the kids realizing it because we were just practicing.  

The biggest hesitation I had before this unit was in the fact that I could have taught these topics better.  But the thing is...that's ok.  Of course I can teach exponent simplification better...I've taught it so many times at this point.  And it's my job.  If I couldn't do a better job than a 9th grader that has never taught before, then there's a real problem.  Giving them the chance to be in charge and really own the topic helped them to learn better.

I have to actually say that some of the kids blew me away with how well they did.  I sat in the back of the room a lot with a huge grin on my face because I thought they were doing so awesome.  One girl created an analogy off the top of her head on why exponent multiplication is like cliques at school that I thought was just amazing.  The ISN pages they created were so detailed and so organized.  Today we played power to a power bingo and got Smarties as prizes.  The group that taught zero exponents gave clearer notes than I ever have.

One thing I think I would change is that I would like to have them learn their material at home.  They used resources from my Livebinder to independently learn and practice their topic and I think they could have done this on their own.  I would still want to give them some class time to practice as a group and for me to make sure they are good, but maybe just like half a period.

Next time I would place way more emphasis on them needing to assess their students.  This was definitely the part that most of them were missing.  One group did a perfect job so for the future I'll use this as an example.  Since this is long already, I'll save the actual content they created for another post...

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